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University of Missouri: Reversing its troubled history

Lincoln Stephens | 11/12/2015, 11:32 a.m.
The recent resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe is not about one incident of a student being ...
Students and faculty members form a circle around a campsite occupied by protesters at the University of Missouri. (Photo: Lindsay Gloor/Twitter)

— The students were incredibly thoughtful for sharing their perspective and solutions to heal our campus, and their requests deserved to be taken a lot more seriously than they were. One of those requests was for the resignation of the system president. Members of Concerned Student 1950 felt that he failed to fulfill a major part of his job -- to ensure that the four universities inside of the system were safe and inclusive places of learning for all students.

Now that Tim Wolfe has resigned, as well as Mizzou Chancellor Bowen Loftin, amid a variety of issues beyond the poor handling of race and cultural relations, the long and hard work begins. The collective duty of building a campus environment that keeps our campus and community safe will need to increase, now, more than ever.

While four incidents this past semester precipitated the call for Wolfe's resignation, the issue now is reversing the damage from a half-century of the university being unprepared to deal with the incidents that will happen when you merge populations of students, faculty and staff that all have different views about one another, both positive and negative.

One essential solution that has been a missing component to healing on campus is the role of the alumni. Over the past week, alumni have stepped up and shared their voice and support to the transformation that needs to take place for the sake of the university and most importantly, the students.

Within a few hours nearly 1,000 Black Alumni signed a petition in support of the Concerned Student 1950 movement. That kind of support behind the students needs to continue and to increase. This protest was the work of hundreds of concerned students that used their talents and platforms to bring awareness to what they and others felt. Although many news outlets are reporting that Wolfe's resignation is almost solely linked to the football players' strike, that was only part of the saga.

We must not lose sight of the history of so many former students, campus staff, and faculty who have wanted to see justice, inclusion and safety for nearly an entire century. We must also not lose sight of the future, which will take a lot of intentional work from all constituents of the MU community of students, faculty, administration, parents, staff, and legislators (local, state and national).

Now that the world is watching, what will we show them: our best or our worst?

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