University of Missouri Students Are Taking Strong Stances Against Racism

November 8th 2015

Diana Crandall

More than 30 Black football players at the University of Missouri are refusing to practice or play any games until school president Tim Wolfe resigns or is terminated, ESPN reports. The strike comes amidst protests from Missouri students who say that Wolfe hasn’t appropriately responded to multiple acts of racism on campus.

Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians announced the strike on Saturday night via Twitter, including a photo of 32 Black men who are participating.

“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” a photo within the tweet says. “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!!!!!”

Wolfe issued a statement on Sunday that suggested he would not be stepping down.

"It is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns," the statement reads in part. "Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides, and are confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses...in the meantime, I am dedicated to ongoing dialogue to address these very complex, societal issues as they affect our campus community."

Missouri's head football coach has expressed solidarity with his players.

Also, on Sunday morning, Missouri's head football coach, Gary Pinkel, tweeted his support of his football players on strike, saying: “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players. #ConcernedStudent1950.”

USA TODAY reports that the most recent incident of racism occurred on Oct. 24 when a swastika was drawn with human feces on the wall of a dorm. On Oct. 5, racial slurs were thrown at a group of students by an intoxicated person. Students on campus protested in response.

The University of Missouri chancellor was away from campus at the time that the hate speech occurred on Oct. 5, but uploaded a video acknowledging that racism exists on campus and saying “enough is enough. Stop it now.”

But the students say they need more. Earlier this week, a graduate student named Jonathan Butler announced that he was planning on going on a hunger strike until Wolfe steps down or is fired.

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“My body feels like it’s on fire,” Butler, 25, told The Washington Post on Thursday night. At the time he made the comments to the Post, it was four days into his protest. “I have pain all over. I’m exhausted. Of course, I’m hungry. I’ve got an ongoing headache.”

Butler told the Post that he already feels like campus is an “unlivable” space.

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"[I]t’s worth sacrificing something of this grave amount, because I’m already not wanted here. I’m already not treated like I’m a human,” Butler said.

Missouri is not the only campus to have problems with racism. The Washington Post reported that nooses have been left hanging on trees at Duke University as well as the University of Mississippi. The student body president at the University of Southern California was called an “Indian piece of shit.”

This is an ongoing story. Return to ATTN: for updates.