This is a very strong message.
The University of Missouri‘s football team suspended all team activities — right in the middle of their season — and more than 30 players walked out on the team in an effort to boycott President Tim Wolfe.
Wolfe, and the University administration more broadly, have come under fire for slow reactions to several alleged acts of racism on campus, with concerned students feeling as though the president has little concern for the black students on campus.
Things came to a head last week, when graduate student Jonathan Butler started a hunger strike — that has now gone on for nearly seven full days — that Butler says will not stop until either he dies, or Wolfe is removed from his position.
Finally, after a week of tension on campus, news broke Monday morning that Wolfe finally resigned from his position as the president of the entire University of Missouri system!
This, according to a tweet from Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery:
The tipping point came Saturday night when the football team stood with Butler — both literally and figuratively — by walking out of their athletic commitments, as posted to Twitter:
Several incidents led to this point, including the University’s student body president Peyton Head and several other students allegedly being called a racial slur repeatedly at the school, and a swastika drawn in feces on the wall of a campus building.
Wolfe, according to protesters and activists, has shown ignorance to the entire situation while being incredibly slow to react to the incidents, prompting calls that he is unfit to lead the school.
Wolfe also came under fire for his poor reaction to a protest at Missouri’s homecoming parade earlier in November, when a group of activists approached his car to stage a protest, and the university president ignored them.
Wolfe released a statement about that issue:
“My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in the moment. I am asking us to move forward in addressing the racism that exists at our university ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ and it does exist.”
Wolfe’s ignorance showed through in a particularly damning video posted to Twitter of a bad interaction he had with black students earlier this week:
The football team is next scheduled to play on November 14 against Brigham Young University at a neutral site in Kansas City; there is no word yet on what may happen if they don’t end up playing the game.
Though now that Wolfe has announced his resignation, it seems the strike will probably end.
Missouri’s department of athletics released a statement standing behind their football players — and NOT their university president — in the protest:
“The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.”
Coach Gary Pinkel later tweeted a photo of the entire team — black and white players included — showing their support for the protests in a very powerful image:
In an interesting twist, not all players appear to be united in the decision not to practice, though. According to ESPN, an unnamed player revealed some information about the scene in the locker room this week:
“As much as we want to say everyone is united, half the team and coaches — black and white — are pissed. If we were 9-0, this wouldn’t be happening.”
The Tigers’ football team has four wins and five losses.
The anonymous player continued:
“Not everyone agrees with the decision [to stop all football activities]. Most people are pissed, including the black guys on the team.”
Obviously, now that Wolfe has resigned from his position, here’s hoping that things slowly start to return to normal on campus at Mizzou.
Whatever the case, we hope in the future school administrators take the needs of all of their students more seriously.
[Image via Twitter.]