In the midst of several protests over racial tensions at its flagship campus in Columbia, Mo., the president and chancellor of the University of Missouri, Timothy M. Wolfe, resigned Monday as many requested.
You’ve likely heard about this latest development of racism in America. But, like most, you’re probably trying to fill several holes related to why Wolfe resigned.
According to the Associated Press, students say there has been an increase in “tension and inequality with no systematic support” since last year’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., approximately 117 miles from the campus.
According to The New York Times, there were two events during the fall semester in which black students were verbally abused via racial slurs. In a separate incident, someone used feces to scrawl a swastika in a university building.
Students grew angry when they felt Wolfe didn’t react quick enough to their outcries, so they took to protesting. One graduate student said he wouldn’t eat until Wolfe was gone. Much of the faculty canceled classes. An activist group held a sit-in on a campus plaza. It didn’t appear Wolfe was going to budge until football players announced Saturday that they wouldn’t play as long as the president remained in office.
So, after dealing with several issues since the 57-year-old president took over in 2012, Wolfe was forced to resign because students felt they were being bullied.
Wolfe moved to Columbia as a fourth-grade student and won a high school state championship there as a quarterback. He was recognized by many of his colleagues as a great leader, and while he wasn’t directly responsible for any of the racism that took place at the university, he was the public figure that suffered the blow.
Wolfe’s absence might not halt any racist actions, but it seems his resignation has shown how powerful a large group can be when racism is at the center of attention, even if there was no severe harm done.
Now the question is whether or not such a headlining incident will actually bring about further change in the initiatives at hand or if it will merely spark more conversation than action. A lack of action is exactly what seemed to lead to Wolfe’s resignation, but it remains to be seen whether his departure will spawn any different results.