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Mizzou Madness

A crowd student protesters surround a group of tents pitched in the middle of a grassy plaza in a university.
The tent city at the Concerned Students 1950 protest on Monday, Nov. 9 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Concerned Students 1950 is a group named after the first year that black students were allowed to attend MU. (Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
The tent city at the Concerned Students 1950 protest on Monday, Nov. 9 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Concerned Students 1950 is a group named after the first year that black students were allowed to attend MU. (Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
The tent city at the Concerned Students 1950 protest on Monday, Nov. 9 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Concerned Students 1950 is a group named after the first year that black students were allowed to attend MU. (Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

Ferguson protests, swastikas carved into dorm rooms, racial slurs being shouted at students on the road, play rehearsals being interrupted by drunken racists. This is the kind of experience you can expect to find at The University of Missouri campus.

The very fact that the university’s administration did virtually nothing amid racist actions on their campuses is nothing less than astounding.

When a leader such as University President Tim Wolfe is inactive in the face of inequality on his campus then the student body must step up and take matters into their own hands and say racism is not okay.

The University of Missouri’s football team was right in its collective decision to protest and abstain from playing until Wolfe’s resignation in the face of racist demonstrations on campus. And kudos to the Head Coach Gary Pinkel for backing his players.

Though the football team and their coach likely have a bigger say than a typical student, it is bold-faced actions such as refusing to play that exemplify the power of the student body at the University level. And more power to the team for refusing to play. Why should a team play for a school that condones racial slurs targeting the majority of the team?

The football team’s leverage over the administration was its ability to cost the school system a large sum of money spent on promoting games against other schools and contracts requiring the team to play. According to a Washington Post article, The University of Missouri System would have had to pay $1 million in fines if the football team didn’t play.

With scheduled games approaching and the impending threat of huge fines, the pressure was then on to try to pacify the football team.

It is lamentable that money held such weight in a situation where inequity was an issue. Wolfe should have resigned because he allowed racists to do as they pleased on his school campuses and he failed as a leader to provide a peaceful and

diverse environment.

But that’s not what happened.

Wolfe’s statement regarding the racism occurring at the university might have good intentions, but is ultimately worthless.

“Racism does exist at our university and it is unacceptable. It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case. I truly want all members of our university community to feel included, valued and safe.”

In contrast, Pinkel tweeted his support of his players.

“The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.”

The same, unapologetic support that Pinkel displayed is needed from the school’s administration in matters of inequality. Or at the very least have their public relations department respond quickly rather than tip toe around the subject. The worst case scenario is that the school defends racists in refusing to condone racism on campus.

It leaves one to wonder if the school’s proximity to the Ferguson controversy is the cause behind racist actions at the campuses. With racial tensions running hot in that area the minority students make attractive targets seeing as the school had been condoning their actions.

Had this occurred in a more culturally accepting area (think California) it’s likely that the racist demonstrators would not only have been unsuccessful in their harassment of black students, but the institution would have almost certainly have responded to the racism sternly and immediately.

In retrospect, it’s unwise to commit acts of racism against blacks at an institution especially where over half of football team is black and even less wise for the administration to do nothing about it.

But hindsight is 20/20.

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Mizzou Madness