Making History: The Power of the People
By Anna M Erickson
Tonight's meeting at Hendricks Chapel marks yet another incident where Chancellor Syverud has failed to address the needs of his students. Yes, these are needs - student safety is a necessity to be taken seriously and hate crimes are to be appropriately addressed on campus. Chancellor Kent's habitual ineffectiveness is reason enough to walk out - we will no longer have our time wasted.
As you unwind from tonight’s events, I invite you to read a story that provides much inspiration to continue fighting for your basic rights as students. Here is a university that fought for its president’s resignation and won. This is a true story which, in fact, parallels almost every aspect of the current movement happening at SU: Missouri University Protest of 2015.
Timeline of University of Missouri Protest Leading to President Tim Wolfe’s Resignation:
2014 - The Ferguson protests led to the creation of two prominent activist groups on the University of Missouri’s campus: MU for Michael Brown and Concerned Student 1950 (1950 was the first year a black student was admitted into the university).
April - Swastika Draw on a Dorm Stairwell Wall. Freshman Bradley Becker was arrested for “second-degree property damage motivated by discrimination” and pled guilty to the charges.
September 12 - Black Student Called the n-word. The Missouri Students Association president, Payton Head, who is black, was walking when a vehicle of students slowed down screamed the racial slur. Head shared the story on social media and post went viral
October 5 - Black student Called the n-word (again). During the Legion of Black Collegians rehearsal, an “inebriated white man” walked by and called the students the n-word.
October 8 - Mandatory diversity training announced: Oct. 8 The university announced that all incoming freshmen will go through online diversity training. (*cough* *cough* Syracuse’s first-year seminar)
October 10 - Protesters Block Wolfe’s car.
Protesters are removed by police for blocking the president’s car. Wolfe refused to speak with the students. One student remarked, “We’ve sent emails, we’ve sent tweets, we’ve messaged, but we’ve gotten no response back from the upper officials.”
October 20 - Student group demands Wolfe resign Activist group, Concerned Student 1950, released a list of demands.
October 24 - (another) Swastika draw in residence hall. This one in a bathroom, and in feces.
October 26 - Wolfe Meets with Student Group. President Wolfe met with students, yet failed to meet any of their demands. The Concerned Student 1950 reported he was “‘not completely’ aware of systemic racism, sexism, and patriarchy on campus”
November 2 - Student, Jonathan Butler, Annonces Hunger Strike. Butler notes he will not break unless Wolfe resigns, saying “I’m fighting for the black community on campus because justice is worth fighting for. And justice is worth starving for.”
November 6 - Wolfe Releases Statement. Wolfe apologized for incensed when students were removed by police and expressed concern for Butler’s health.
November 7 - Football Players Threaten Boycott. Over 30 football players say they will not participate in any practices or games until Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigns or is terminated. Sophomore defensive back Anthony Sherrils tweeted: “The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere’ We will no longer participate in any football-related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!!”
November 8 - Wolfe pledges to stay: Nov. 8 The president says he is “confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses.”
November 8 - Legislators call for Wolfe’s resignation
Pep. Steven Cookson (R), chairman of the Missouri House Committee on Higher Education, said Wolfe “can no longer effectively lead.” Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said he supported the campus protesters.
Wolfe resigns Wolfe wrote “My motivation in making this decision comes from love... I love MU, Columbia, where I grew up, the state of Missouri.”
I hope this story serves as a reminder that we must continue fighting. Persistence is everything. And justice is always worth fighting for.