In the midst of a veritable buffet of key college football games, there’s a movement afoot in Missouri that could have long-lasting reverberations across the sport.
According to a tweet from the account of Mizzou’s Legion of Black Collegians, players of color on the Tigers football team “will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences.” Wolfe and the university has come under heavy criticism of late for responses to race-related events on the campus.
— The Legion of Black Collegians (@MizzouLBC) November 8, 2015
— Stephanie Shonekan (@SShonekan) November 8, 2015
A petition on change.org explains what has led up to the situation:
Tim Wolfe is an inadequate UM Systems President. He does not understand systems of oppression, yet claims to care about Black students. He did not intervene in the violence students faced during the peaceful parade demonstration on October 10, 2015 and has not apologized or recognized his negligence. We are asking for the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe.
Jonathan Butler, an MU Grad student, embarked on a hunger strike that began at 9am on November 2, 2015. He is prepared to continue on this strike indefinitely or until Tim Wolfe is removed from office as the University of Missouri President. If you agree that Tim Wolfe is negligent, inadequate, and needs to be removed from his position, please sign and share this petition.
Please review Jonathan Butler’s story on why he will be striking as well as the attached media clips that show the Jonathan Butler being hit by the car carrying the U of M system president during the homecoming demonstration.
Shortly after the football player development, Wolfe released his own statement apologizing for at least some of his actions that may have led to a deteriorating situation:
Today I again had the opportunity to meet with MU graduate student Jonathan Butler who continues a hunger strike protesting the inequalities, inequities, and obstacles faced by students, faculty and staff at the University of Missouri. I am very concerned about Jonathan’s health. His voice for social justice is important and powerful. He is being heard and I am listening. I am thankful for the leadership provided by him and the other student leaders in raising awareness of racism, injustice, and intolerance. This afternoon I also met with representatives of several student groups and I value their input and hear their voices.
Racism does exist at our university and it is unacceptable. It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case. I truly want all members of our university community to feel included, valued and safe.
I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car. I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue. My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment. Nonetheless, had I gotten out of the car to acknowledge the students and talk with them perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today. I am asking us to move forward in addressing the racism that exists at our university – and it does exist. Together we must rise to the challenge of combatting racism, injustice, and intolerance.
The Tigers, who played this past Thursday, are scheduled to play again this coming Saturday against BYU. Whether they actually take the field for the final non-conference game of the year is a development we’ll be watching throughout the coming days.
The Mizzou athletic department or head coach Gary Pinkel, or both, could be releasing statements as early as tonight, although Sunday would seem more likely.
UPDATED 11:19 p.m. ET: Missouri athletics released a statement of support for the movement a short time ago.
The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.