There have been recent victories in the name of civil rights on the campus of the University of Missouri in the past few months. With what was reported to be many accounts of systematic racism on campus, there was a great call to action from students. This led to multiple protests, the greatest action being the football team threatening to boycott by not playing.
Though a culmination of the months of protests and even one student’s hunger strike, the threats from the football team were what forced University of Missouri college president Timothy M. Wolfe to resign from his position. In doing so he says that he was hoping that the school would be able to take this action and build a new college dynamic from it, one in which racial issues were taken seriously.
This points to one of the most pressing issues on the campus, being the prevalence of racial slurs, race based bullying, and racial discrimination. Those protesting decided to go for the root of the problem being the infrastructure of the school, which allows these actions to go on without consequences and not offering events or the like to raise racial awareness, which could in turn foster a culture in which those who display such behaviors would be socially ostracized.
This intentional ignorance is what drove these organizations to push for such an action as the resignation from the president and in the end they were successful, yet now they have been left with a completely different situation that may prove more difficult than the last.
Though the groups testify to their knowledge that those who display such behaviors do not speak for the community as a whole, there are still tensions stemming from the protests and the loss of the president. This, in turn, has caused students to speak out to redefine a commentary that has been promoted by media coverage of the protests, being that all those in the community are racially insensitive.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Payton Head, a 21-year-old senior from the University, speaks to the climate of the town and where the true problem lies, saying "the actions of a few members of our community don't speak for the majority. The problem is when we have an administration, we have leadership who continues to send signals to these students that this kind of behavior will be tolerated on this campus."
Following the resignation of Wolfe, there has been a vast variety of responses. Head has been the victim such attacks leading up to recent events and has now become a focusing point for some of the aggressions that have followed the resignation. He has received hate mail and threats, which he says is a similar experience to many of those involved. Many on campus, however, are appreciative of Head and his efforts and thank him if they see him walking to class.
Students at the University of Missouri are hopeful for a new campus culture in which there is acceptance of each other and inclusive to all races, and it seems with Wolfe’s resignation, the time for such change is now.