Mizzou–Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

News of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe’s resignation came out on Monday morning.  The Mizzou football team went on strike in support of students on campus calling for racial equality and for the University to address discrimination issues on the predominantly white Columbia, MO, campus.  Football players protested in solidarity with hunger-striking student, John Butler, and said they would not play again until Wolfe resigned.

Here’s the story from ABC News:

In his announcement Wolfe said, “Please use this resignation to heal, not to hate.” He said, “I ask everybody to use my resignation to heal and start talking again to make the changes necessary.”

The UM Board of Curators voted to go into an executive session shortly after Wolfe’s announcement Monday morning on University of Missouri campus.

In recent weeks black students have criticized Wolfe for his lack of action in response to racial issues on campus.

His alleged inaction caused one MU graduate student to go on a hunger strike. That student, Jonathan Butler, marked seven full days of not eating at 9 Monday morning. Butler said he would not resume eating until President Wolfe was fired or resigned.

On Monday morning Butler tweeted that the hunger strike was over. 

Butler started his strike on Monday, November 2 in opposition to Wolfe’s handling of “a collection of incidents” this year, including alleged racist comments yelled at student body president Payton Head and Wolfe’s handling of student protesters at the Homecoming parade. 

The fact is, University of Missouri football players stepped into the fray at the Missouri campus because they  knew their protest would be financially detrimental to the school.  Some news stories reported that if the team didn’t play next Friday against BYU, the University would have to pay a penalty of $1 million.  The players knew they had some leverage.

[See also, “Professor Secretly Investigated by the Diversity Police.”]

ABC News reports:

The controversy was pushed into the national spotlight Friday after several University of Missouri football players announced their support of ongoing campus protests against racial injustice, promising to stop playing games until President Wolfe resigned.

Defensive players Anthony Sherrils and John Gibson III, both African-American, tweeted the message, along with a picture of several athletes standing with Butler.  

Those on the side of the football players claim that ethnically diverse students on campus, who make up only 7 percent of the population, feel marginalized.  The football team is 69 percent African American, so their support of the fight against racism is key if it is to be successful.  It has also been inferred that the University takes advantage of the football team as a money making entity for the school, and that the predominance of African American players on the team makes this practice racist.  (See this story from ABC News 7 in Chicago.)

In considering the racism issue at Mizzou, much has been said about the University not addressing the racial tensions that arose in the Michael Brown case in Fuerguson two years ago. But why has it taken two years for the student on campus to get upset about this issue?  Why is the killing of Michael Brown in a town nearly 3 hours away a part of the racial concerns on the campus?  At a time when students across the country are demanding that universities hand down rules to prevent offending each other, it is interesting that one outspoken protester could garner enough support to bring down the college president.  Intolerance is only tolerated when it relates to certain groups.  Racism is always wrong, but when the University administration gave in to the demands of protestors, even protestors who bring in a lot of cash to the institution, by bringing about President Wolfe’s resignation, they opened the floodgate to more protests and more intolerance in the name of tolerance.

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