The students at the University of Missouri are currently fighting a battle that no one should be fighting in the year 2015. A student organized group of protester- Concerned Students 1950- have made it their mission to make their school a better place and to fight for their rightfully deserved equality. So far, their protests have led to the resignation of the campus chancellor and the university system president but the fight has not been easy. The backlash of their protests have lead to violent threats, classes being canceled and an ever growing fear among students of color on campus.
Concerned Student 1950 is a group of student activists who’s mission is to address the school’s failure to address the inequality and social injustices that occur on campus on a daily. Pronounced as 1-9-5-0, the group got it’s name from the first year Black students where admitted into the University of Missouri- 1950. The groups core initiatives are to hiring more faculty of color, increase the number of minority enrollment and to provide better mental-health resources for students. Concerned Student 1950 hold several demonstrators around campus to get their voices heard, including a hunger strike lead by Jonathan Butler. Butler is a Mizzou graduate who began a hunger strike to bring awareness to racially motivated incidents on campus and demanded the resignation of system president, Tim Wolfe. Butler’s hunger strike ended when Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned.
Students began camping out and protesting because of several recent incidents that students believe were racially charged. The President of Missouri Student Association and the Legion of Black Collegians were called racial slurs around campus, a swastika painted on a dorm room wall and the use of excessive force ,pepper spray on Black protesters at the homecoming parade, cotton balls being dumped on the lawn of the campus’ Black Culture Center ,racist flyers being hung in dormitories and that’s just to name a few. Even the universities homecoming proceedings speak to a history of racism, so much so Black students created their own homecoming court and events in 1970s which continue to this day.
Racial tension has reached a new height. Students have been evacuated from the Black Culture Center due to arson threats and social media blew up when a campus shooting threat was made via Yik Yak and reports of a Klu Klux Klan member on campus also sparked fear amongst students. Through all of this, only one arrest has been made of a 19-year-old man who allegedly made online threats to shoot Black students on campus. The school remains open but security has been heightened. Many classes and events- such as meetings for Black orgs.- have been canceled and popular hangout spots on campus have become ghost towns.
At this moment, it is unclear about what will happen next for the University of Missouri. While the campus is still open, the protests have not ended. The University plans to make diversity courses mandatory for all students. With all the craziness surrounding them, Concerned Student 1950 is not backing down. They will continue to remain in the campus quad and will continue that the necessary improvements to improve racial equality on campus.
On social media, people of color all across the United States have rallied in support of the students at the University of Missouri holding their own events, rallies and standing in solidarity with them using the hashtag, #IStandWithMizzou.