Mizzou Pres., Chancellor Resign — What Now?
As questions remain regarding the future of the University of Missouri, a look at what brought the university to this point.
A powerful movement of protests and walkouts by students and faculty at the University of Missouri — and a boycott by the school's revenue-generating Division I football team — in response to inaction by the administration surrounding increased racial tensions on campus accomplished its mission to topple the university's ineffective leadership.
Now that both President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin (who will be entering a new role at the university on Jan. 1, "advancing research," he told reporters) have resigned, protestors are not giving up. Concerned Student 1950, the student group of activists behind the protests (named as such because the university first began admitting Black students in 1950), issued new demands following Wolfe's resignation.
"Moving forward, Concerned Student 1950 demands an immediate meeting with the UM System Faculty Council, Board of Curators and the governor of the state of Missouri to discuss shared governance and create a system of holistic inclusion for all constituents," said Marshall Allen, one of Concerned Student 1950's original members.
Student activists have been working hard to effect change. They have made their voices heard with not only protests and walkouts but also with the use of social media. Payton Head, the president of the university's student government, wrote a lengthy Facebook post in September, detailing his personal experiences with racism — including having racial slurs yelled at him on campus — as well as details of incidents of homophobia and racism experienced by his friends. This type of action connects what was initially considered a localized problem to similar incidents all across the nation, such as the racist cartoon that covered the SUNY Plattsburgh student newspaper, a "white girls only" party thrown by a Yale fraternity and a mockery of African culture by Princeton University's swim and diving teams.
The football team even used the power of money to demand change. Black members of the team refused to participate in any football-related activities until Wolfe's resignation; white teammates joined the boycott, too. The players planned not to take part in the team's upcoming weekend game — a decision that would have cost the university an estimated $1 million as the school would continue to lose advertising from one of its biggest moneymakers. Incidentally, Wolfe's resignation did not come until after the team declared its boycott.
While in his resignation Monday Wolfe said he took "full responsibility for this frustration and … inaction," his departure is merely the first step in a long battle ahead. "This is just a beginning in dismantling systems of oppression in higher education, specifically the UM system," Allen explained.
How Did We Get Here?
According to Wolfe, "It is my belief we stopped listening to each other."
However, "stopped listening" implies that there ever was a time Wolfe did listen. And given the university's history of racist incidents, Wolfe had many opportunities to listen. He took his position of president in 2012 and, despite the university's clear history of racial tensions, Wolfe did little to address the issues.
The problems began before Wolfe was even in the picture. In 2010, two students littered cotton balls outside the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center on campus. And despite a statement in 2010 by then-Chancellor Brady Deaton that the school "remain[s] committed to promoting and reinforcing diversity at MU," there had been no substantial efforts to that effect until last month, when another racial incident in October prompted just-resigned Chancellor Loftin to order students and faculty to participate in diversity training in 2016.
But despite the seemingly deep concerns of the two former chancellors regarding the 2010 incident, the commitment appears to have fallen through the cracks. In 2010, 82.1 percent of the university's undergraduate students were white, while just 7.2 percent were Black, according to the university's website. In 2014, the numbers hardly changed, falling to 79 percent white students and moving to 8 percent for Black students — a less than 1 percentage point increase.
Faculty demographics do not fare much better. In 2010, 78.7 percent of full-time faculty members were white, with just 2.61 percent being Black. In 2014, the number of whites went to 75 percent, while Blacks represented 3 percent — an increase of less than half of a percentage point.
And racially charged incidents continued. The inaction following Head's Facebook post prompted protests from students. At a rally last month, one frustrated student said, "We are one bad decision away from a killing on this campus because it is segregated."
But even statements like that were not enough to create a dialogue. Concerned Student 1950 then created a list of demands for the university, which included increasing the number of Black staff and faculty members to 10 percent as well as the creation of a long-term plan to retain a more diverse student population.
After the demands were drafted, a swastika made of feces appeared on a dormitory bathroom, and protests continued. Only after this incident did Wolfe agree to meet with Concerned Student 1950, where Wolfe allegedly did not agree to any of the changes the group proposed.
On Nov. 8, the football team announced its participation in the boycott. The following day, Wolfe resigned.
According to the university, one of its next courses of action is to hire its first chief diversity, inclusion, and equity officer. While this sounds like a good initiative, it emphasizes the fact that the university didn't have someone in charge of diversity prior to these recent events.
And as seen in other incidents of racism on college campuses, simply having the position is not always enough. At the University of Louisville, President James Ramsey hosted a very offensive costume party, where he and his staff members dressed in stereotypical Mexican attire, wearing sombreros, ponchos and fake mustaches. The university has a person who serves as Director of the Office of Hispanic and Latino Initiatives, yet such an incident still occurred.
The university has also said it will now offer diversity training to new students, as well as faculty and staff members. However, only time will tell how effective the training is, since the university has a proven history of not following through with its alleged diversity initiatives.
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Update: Student Wearing MAGA Hat Standing Face-to-Face With Native American Veteran Releases Statement
"I was not intentionally making faces at the [protester]," said Nick Sandmann.
UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 at 7 a.m.
Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School Junior who stands in front of Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe and a veteran, in a viral video that has sparked outrage, made a statement through a lawyer and spokesman on Sunday night.
Sandmann said the students decided to raise their voices to drown out the comments against them by four protesters who identify themselves as Black Hebrew Israelites. A video has been released of the incident.
"A student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group," Sandmann said in his statement. "The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school," he said.
Phillips walked up to the students and said he started drumming and singing a song to encourage unity trying to quell the argument.
"There was that moment when I realized I've put myself between beast and prey,'' Phillips told the Detroit Free Press. "These young men were beastly and these old Black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.''
But said at one point, he claims the teenagers started saying "Go back to the reservation'' and broke into chants of "Build that wall.'' He also questioned why chaperones did not get involved.
"I was scared," Phillips told CNN. "I don't like the word 'hate.' I don't like even saying it, but it was hate unbridled. It was like a storm."
Sandmann claims he was "not intentionally making faces at the [protester]. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation."
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington in Kentucky is currently investigating the incident.
ORIGINAL STORY Published Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats, who attend Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, K.Y., were in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the anti-abortion March for Life rally. In a video, it appears that Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe and a veteran, was being mocked by the students at the Lincoln Memorial.
The incident occurred as the Indigenous Peoples March was ending. Videos showing their behavior went viral on social media on Saturday.
One of the students, standing less than a foot away, appears to be trying to intimidate Phillips by staring him down with a mocking smirk on his face. Phillips was in the midst of drumming and singing a song of unity:
I've seen that look before — on the MAGA boy's face as he taunts a participant from the Indigenous Peoples March. Fueled by ideology and a desire to dehumanize, it frightens me and reminds me of other cruel youth groups from history.
(anyone know original source of video?) pic.twitter.com/Ka6t5HKmCz
— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) January 19, 2019
Kaya Taitano, who shot the video, told CNN that MAGA hat-wearing-students and four Black teens, who'd been preaching about the Bible nearby, started yelling and calling each other names. That's why Phillips started drumming and singing a song to encourage unity trying to quell the argument.
President Trump, whom the students apparently idolize, posted a tweet last week to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who plans to run for president in the 2020 election.
Trump made fun of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre in response to a video Warren posted on Instagram.
If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash! pic.twitter.com/D5KWr8EPan
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019
Phillips, a Vietnam Era veteran who said he served between 1972 and 1976, is in tears as he explains in a video how the incident on Friday made him feel:
"I heard them saying, 'Build that wall, build that wall.' This in indigenous land. You know, we're not supposed to have walls here. We never did …"
He continued, "Before anybody else came here, we never had walls. We never had a prison. We always took care of our elders. We took care of our children. We always provided for them. We taught them right from wrong."
He said he wishes the young men who taunted him would use "that energy to make this country really great."
Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I'm reposting this video from “ka_ya11" on IG. This man's words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019
Robert "Bob" Rowe is the principal of Covington Catholic High School (email: email@example.com).
An investigation is now taking place, and the MAGA teens could be expelled. The Diocese of Covington and the high school issued the following statement on Saturday:
"We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.
"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.
"We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement."
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org demanding changes at the high school.
Many are saying on social media that the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students mimics how whites tried to intimidate Blacks during the civil rights movement:
The MAGA-hat wearing Covington Catholic High School students mocking Elder Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington are direct descendants of the white privilege that empowered white kids to mock Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. pic.twitter.com/tQroBf6aPb
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 19, 2019
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