The president of the University of Missouri has resigned amid student criticism of his handling of racial issues.
Tim Wolfe said Monday at a special meeting of the system’s governing board that he takes ‘full responsibility for the frustration’ students had expressed regarding racial issues and that it ‘is clear’ and ‘real.’
In a brief statement given to the media at the meeting, Wolfe said that his decision to resign came ‘out of love, not hate’ and that he hopes the university can ‘move forward together’.
He asked that his resignation be used as a way for students and staff to come together and tackle the issues.
‘We have to stop yelling and stop intimidating each other,’ he said.
Black student groups have been complaining for months about racial slurs and other slights on the system’s overwhelmingly white flagship campus in Columbia.
One graduate student, Jonathan Butler, even went on a hunger strike, which he ended immediately after the announcement Monday morning.
Butler, whose hunger strike began November 2, appeared weak and unsteady as two people helped him past a human chain and into a sea of celebrants. Many broke into dance at seeing him.
The group’s efforts got a boost over the weekend when 30 black football players announced they wouldn’t participate in team activities until Wolfe was removed.
‘The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe “Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,”‘ the players said in a statement. ‘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. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!’
Head football coach Gary Pinkel expressed solidarity on Twitter, posting a picture of the team and coaches locking arms. The tweet said: ‘The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.’
Frustrations flared during a homecoming parade on October 10 when black protesters blocked system President Tim Wolfe’s car and he would not get out and talk to them. They were removed by police.
By Sunday, a campus sit-in had grown in size, graduate student groups planned walk outs and politicians began to weigh in.
The protests began after the student government president, 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.
Also, a swastika drawn in feces was found recently in a dormitory bathroom.
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