As the University of Missouri’s president resigns, the university has a chance to straighten out their priorities and face the history they’ve long ignored.
Frustration with the admin’s unresponsiveness towards racist incidents reached a boiling point at Missouri this past week, when the football team — half of whom are black — threatened to boycott unless the university president, Tim Wolfe, resigned.
When rallies and hunger strikes failed to produce change, the prospect of a $1-million forfeit fee forced Wolfe to step down.
A university can’t be held accountable for some of its students’ racist actions. But, institutions, and especially schools, have an indisputable responsibility to ensure they provide safe and non-discriminatory spaces.
It’s reprehensible that this even requires saying, but this means a safe space for all students, regardless of their race.
While civil rights should outstrip monetary concerns, the university’s surrender to its football team shows what really talks is money.
Sadly, this is a common theme at many universities — things only begin to change when it becomes financially profitable to do so.
So, from the purely financial perspective that seems to be the only thing universities understand, it was, perhaps, unwise to disregard the racist treatment of a minority group that significantly contributes to the $83.7 million revenue the athletic program draws in.
Wolfe was brought in from a corporate background to cut costs. So, despite Missouri’s lengthy history of racism, he was unlikely to address anything, no matter its importance to social justice, until it cost the university money.
But, as has been proven again and again, a student body’s well-being can’t be measured using the bottom line.
The fact that it took students such measures to evoke a reaction signals a systemic problem that goes deeper than Wolfe’s resignation will fix.
If there’s a silver lining to be found in all this, it’s that we can no longer take the role of student activism lightly.
Collegiate football players work extremely hard in a very competitive environment where they’re often exploited due to their amateur status.
Despite this, many players risked their hard-won futures to stand up for their peers. It should strike a nerve with a lot of people that they felt driven to put so much on the line to do so.
Here’s hoping that Missouri’s administrators will take a page from their students’ playbook and put something on the line to do the right thing.
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