Football team had refused to play; one student went on hunger strike
Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri, announced in a Monday news conference that he was resigning from his post amid a controversy regarding race relations at the school. Wolfe’s resignation comes just two days after African-American football players announced that they would refuse to play until Wolfe’s resignation.
Black football players at the University of Missouri joined calls demanding the ouster of the president of the state’s four-campus university system over alleged inaction against racism on campus. About 30 players made their thoughts known Saturday night in a tweet posted by Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians.
“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” read the tweet. “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’ experience.”
Missouri has had several controversial incidents in the past three months. In September, an African-American student said he was racially abused while walking, and the university did not address the incident for nearly a week.
In October, a student yelled the N-word at members of the Legion of Black Collegians. Later that month, someone smeared feces in the shape of a swastika on a bathroom wall.
Students had been demanding an apology since the #ConcernedStudent1950 action took place on Oct. 10. Then, about 10 African-American Mizzou students linked arms in front of the red convertible that Wolfe was riding in during the parade. They took turns reciting points in history where MU students had endured discrimination – all the way up to September 2015 when Missouri Students Association President Payton Head was called the n-word when walking near campus.
Instead of talking with students, Wolfe tried to drive around them, a video of the demonstration shows. Wolfe’s driver didn’t get past the line, but he did succeed in hitting one of the student demonstrators with the car.
Wolfe also watched as on-lookers manhandled the students and yelled at them, the video shows. Columbia police also threatened the peaceful protestors with pepper spray, only a few feet from where Wolfe remained seated.
Wolfe’s handling of the incidents drew protests from students. Jonathan Butler, a grad student, started a hunger strike Nov. 2, calling for Wolfe to leave his job. Moments after Wolfe’s announcement on Monday this week, an emotional Butler told CNN that the students have focused on the history of racism at the University, but particularly on the removal of Wolfe over the past 90 days because “He’s been negligent and the time is no longer for PR statements or anything to pacify the students. We want real and substantial changes and leadership that’s really going to drive this campus forward.”