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University Of Missouri System President Resigns For Mishandling Racial Harassment

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Nov 9, 2015 5:50PM

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe stepped down from his position Monday amid a swirling racial controversy on campus.

Wolfe had been accused of mishandling racial tensions on the flagship Columbia campus through several incidents. The Associated Press reports that protests kicked off in September, after some students shouted racial slurs at the campus' student government president, who is black. In October, a drunk white student shouted slurs at a black student organization. Last month, a swastika made of human feces was found in a dormitory.

Students began calling for Wolfe to be ousted, and some engaged in a week-long hunger strike. The calls for Wolfe to resign came to a head on Saturday night when over 30 black football players threatened to boycott games and practices on social media, according to the Associated Press.

The school's head football coach, Gary Pinkel, said he supported the football players, and "The Mizzou Family stands as one."

A Kansas City Star editorial said Wolfe's response to the boycott was "woefully inadequate," and his ability to lead the school "irreparably damaged." Faculty members called for a walkout during classes Monday.

Wolfe announced his resignation Monday morning in a statement apologizing for how he responded to students' protests in recent weeks.

"My motivation in making this decision comes from love," Wolfe said in a statement. "It is my belief we stopped listening to each other. We didn’t respond or react."

After Wolfe's statement was released Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student who led campus protests and went on a hunger strike last week, said the hunger strike was over on Twitter. Wolfe said in another statement that he had met with Butler and considers him a powerful voice for social justice.

“His voice for social justice is important and powerful," Wolfe said. "I am thankful for the leadership provided by him and the other student leaders in raising awareness of racism, injustice, and intolerance.”

Wolfe also said he wanted to see the campus "heal" after this:

We got frustrated with each other and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take immediate action and unusual steps to affect change. This is not, the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring, and conversation. And we have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other and start listening and quit intimidating each other. Unfortunately this did not happen and this is why I stand before you today and I take full responsibility for this frustration and I take full responsibility for the inaction, which has occurred. I’d ask everybody from students to faculty, staff to my friends, everybody, use my resignation to heal and start talking again to make changes necessary. Change what we can in the future not what we can’t change in the past. I truly love everyone here and the great institution and my decision comes from love not hate. We need to use my resignation to heal not to hate and let’s move forward together for a brighter tomorrow.