University of Missouri students show the power of student advocacy
But the administration shows more concern for money than student lives
The University of Missouri has made national headlines this week with racial tension and protest dividing the campus.
The Missouri Student Association president and members of the Legion of Black Collegians were called the N-word. Swastikas were drawn on the walls of the campus.
This and other incidents of racism led minority students at Missouri to demand a response from the university
But they felt Missouri President Tim Wolfe inadequately responded to the racial tension on the campus and they lost confidence and respect in him as a leader, as they should.
Black students wanted Wolfe to pay attention to their torment. They wanted him to understand their discomfort.
So they took action.
Student protestors interrupted the homecoming parade. Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student, went on a hunger strike. He said he would not eat until Wolfe was removed from the university.
Officials had to choose: Either keep an insensitive and incapable president in office or keep the life of one of their students.
Butler’s failing organs weren’t the deciding factor in Wolfe’s resignation, which finally came Monday. Instead it was the possibility of paying a $1 million fine.
The Missouri Tigers football pledging to not play until Wolfe was removed is what ultimately brought attention to the issue and led to Wolfe’s resignation two days afterward. Had the Tigers not played their scheduled game against BYU Saturday, the university would have been fined $1 million.
As former Missouri football player Michael Sam pointed out, “Things change when sports gets involved.”
A student who could possibly lose his life wasn’t much of a concern. But Wolfe and the university sure took action once the football team threatened to put a hole in the university’s budget.
The Spectrum commends the football team for taking a stance when they could’ve easily continued on with their season without any repercussions. But we believe it is truly unfortunate that it took a financial scare for the university to recognize the inhumane and unjust atmosphere on campus and make one of the first steps to changing that.
While taking looking at our own university, we hope UB continues on the path its started on to answering its own questions about race on campus. After the “White Only” sign controversy in September, students like members of the Black Student Union and other student organizations, have demanded a response from UB through open forums, walking out on President Satish Tripathi’s annual address and holding meetings with the administration.
Although some progress has been made, UB has yet to come to a final decision or make a new policy regarding the “White Only” incident, and we hope our student leaders continue to put the pressure on.
Because if the unfortunate situation at Missouri has taught us anything, it’s that students really do have power.
There are times when peaceful protests are appropriate. There are also times when a hunger strike and refusal to take the field are the only necessary measures to ensure change. And there are times doing so can bring about change.
Although people are giving credit to the football team, Butler’s actions have to be admired and acknowledged as well. The Missouri administration might not have cared enough about one’s man health to make a change, but his hunger strike is what showed the nation the severity of the issue and the measures students will take to maintain a safe and inclusive campus environment.
Butler has shown us that we aren’t just students.
We are leaders.
We are fighters.
We have the ability to make a change on our campus.
We also don’t have to settle for administration that doesn’t properly tend to our student needs and basic human rights.
The editorial board and be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.