The University of Missouri’s president resigns as students protest racism on campus

Sparking a new conversation.
Sparking a new conversation.
Image: Reuters via David Manning/USA Today
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This post has been updated.

Facing escalating student protests over racial issues on campus, University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe announced today (Nov. 9) that he is stepping down from his position as the school’s leader.

“The frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don’t doubt it for a second,” Wolfe said in a press conference. “I have thought and prayed about this decision, and it is the right thing to do.”

University of Missouri students had been asking their school leaders for months to address a series of race-related issues on campus. The movement rapidly gained steam this weekend when more than 30 black members of the football team said that they wouldn’t play in any more games until the university president resigned.

The athletes announced the boycott on social media Saturday (Nov. 7), saying the players were joining a larger campus effort to stand against president Tim Wolfe’s “negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences.” The team’s head coach posted on social media yesterday (Nov. 8) that “the Mizzou Family stands as one” and “we are behind our players.”

A pattern of racially charged incidents has swept the school, the largest in the state with 35,000 students. On Sept. 12, the school’s student body president wrote a Facebook post about being called the n-word multiple times on campus. “I really just want to know why my simple existence is such a threat to society,” the student wrote. A month later, a white student disrupted a Legion of Black Collegians rehearsal to hurl racial slurs at group members. Two weeks ago—in what was perhaps the final straw for many—a swastika was found drawn, in human feces, on a bathroom wall.

The Columbia Missourian, the school’s newspaper, has a full timeline of the events here.

Wolfe had been criticized for not speaking up about the incidents, and seemingly blaming students for their own systematic oppression.

The dozens of black players involved in the boycott joined several campus groups already protesting, as well as a black graduate student who was on his seventh day of a hunger strike. Late last night (Nov. 8), several Missouri faculty members also declared they would walk out of classes today and tomorrow, in solidarity with the school’s student activists.