The president of the University of Missouri resigned Monday under pressure about a lack of responsiveness by university administrators to racist incidents on the Columbia campus and intense pressure from the student body.
The president, Tim Wolfe, announced his resignation at a news conference Monday morning.
“I am resigning as president of the University of Missouri system today,” he said. “I have thought and prayed about this decision. It’s the right thing to do. The response to this announcement I’m sure ranges from joy to some to anger for others.
“The frustration and anger that I see is clear, it’s real, and I don’t doubt it for a second.”
The pressure on Wolfe to resign increased at the weekend as the school’s football team said it would not play until he stepped down. Coaches and administrators supported the move. Hundreds of students joined a protest Sunday night over what they said was neglect – and even tolerance – by the school of flagrantly racist behavior.
The protests began after the student government president, Payton Head, who is black, said in September that people in a passing pickup truck shouted racial slurs at him. In early October, members of a black student organization said slurs were hurled at them by an apparently drunken white student. And a swastika drawn in feces was found in a dormitory bathroom.
A student group, Concerned Students 1950, named for the year the university first admitted African American students, was formed. One student, Jonathan Butler, staged a weeklong hunger strike.
Wolfe admitted that the university had erred and asked that his resignation provide a moment for healing.
“The question really is, why did we get to this very difficult situation? It is my belief that we stopped listening to each other. We didn’t respond or react … and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take unusual actions, and immediate steps, to effect change.
“This is not, I repeat not, the way change should come about.”
Wolfe, who spoke in a shaky voice and ended his statement in a struggle against tears, said: “I take full responsibility for this frustration, and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred.”
“I ask everybody … use my resignation to heal, and start talking again, to make the changes necessary, and let’s focus on changing what we can today, and in the future.
“My decision to resign comes out of love, not hate.”
Wolfe offered an implicit criticism of the tone of the protests and their reception on the university side.
“We have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other, and start listening,” he said. “We need to quit intimidating each other.”
Butler, who has been on a hunger strike for a week, told CNN that he welcomes Wolfe’s resignation announcement Monday but that the university still has a long way to go to make minority students feel welcome.
Butler said the university system’s governing board needs to listen to more minority faculty and student voices so that situations like this don’t happen again.
Missouri governor Jay Nixon called Wolfe’s resignation “a necessary step toward healing and reconciliation” on the campus.
The University of Missouri system has about 35,000 students enrolled with an annual budget of about $2bn. The Division 1 Missouri Tigers football team plays before sold-out home stadium crowds of 76,000.
Peace 2 The Guardian!!!