Thanksgiving dinner is going to be fun this year. Your friends from home you’ve never talked to you, your parents, fringe family members and pretty much everyone in your town has probably heard about the events at MU. They might’ve watched the resignations on loop thanks to CNN or heard endless commentary about the situation on Fox News.
Thanks to all the national news, MU will certainly be a topic of discussion at the Thanksgiving table. Here’s our guide to getting through that conversation with all your hair intact. Extra points if you only have to have this conversation once.
So what went down at Mizzou?
Take a big, deep breath. Grab a bottle of wine or Everclear or whatever beverage you prefer. Pull up The Maneater timeline.
The short answer is two administrators resigned after a semester and more of frustration. Former UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned after a graduate student went on a hunger strike. The calls for Wolfe’s removal started after the Homecoming parade when 11 students blocked his car in order to draw his attention to campus racism. Wolfe didn’t get out his car and didn’t acknowledge the situation for 16 days when he issued an apology for his behavior during the parade.
This whole situation started last year with the shooting and killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. It hit too close to home for many students, who felt like they needed to do something about it. Three women started the student movement "MU4MikeBrown," and they set out to change a lot about campus climate and the way racist incidents were handled. They were upset by how slowly administration responded to their emails and concerns. Following the Ferguson grand jury decision, MU administrators hosted a race relations forum in December 2014, and two more after that. However, there were promises of more forums. Long story short, that didn't happen, and students were furious with administration, feelings that continued this semester.
Loftin’s resignation was the work of the nine sitting deans. It was months in the making, and Loftin was ironing out his resignation the night before Wolfe announced that he was stepping down.
What else were students unhappy with?
Again, refer to The Maneater timeline.
The decision to cancel graduate students’ health insurance wasn’t received well. To recap, graduate student workers found out that they were losing their health insurance a day before it was due to start. Administrators eventually restored the health insurance, but the damage was done. Grad students were united and ready for change. They issued several demands to administrators that went far beyond health care. They are now in the process of unionizing.
Students weren’t happy with MU cutting ties with Planned Parenthood either. MU came under fire from Missouri lawmakers for its relationship to Planned Parenthood, and those agreements were cancelled as a result. Students protested the decision in Speakers Circle and delivered 2,000 petitions to the administration, calling for the reinstatement of the contracts.
Were faculty mad too?
Oh, yes. In addition to student groups, school deans, faculty and staff expressed their disapproval of the way administration handled a lot of things so far, and many departments and schools expressed support for the students protesting. And many didn’t think Loftin was an effective chancellor either. The English department took a vote of no confidence in Loftin a week before he stepped down.
The president resigned because of the football team? That’s what CNN said.
Uhm, nah. Well, kinda, but it was a lot more than that. I’d say the football team going on strike was the big ol’ cherry on top of a pot of soup that was boiling over and onto the stovetop. The football team’s strike attracted the national media attention needed to push the situation to another level. If the football team didn’t play against Brigham Young, they would’ve had to pay $1 million, according to the game contact. The football team boycotted to help Butler’s cause.
Honey, were you safe?
Well, there wasn’t any violence nor was there an active threat on campus, with the exception of a preacher being punched in the face during his sermon in Speakers Circle. Three people have been arrested in connection with making anonymous threats on Yik Yak. The Ku Klux Klan was never on campus, despite lots of rumors. Campus was tense, but not violent.
What’s a Yik Yak?
An anonymous social networking app. Yes, it’s really helped the situation. Not. People always take advantage of the fact that it is anonymous to post a lot of random crap on there. Sometimes it can be really harmful stuff.
I heard your school hates free speech.
Oh, you’re referring to what happened with that student journalist at the campsite, huh? That’s a gross generalization. The students camping had declared the campsite a media free safe space. They didn’t want to be accosted with reporters and cameras inside the campsite. When the resignation was announced, some of the students and faculty got testy with the journalists.
The campers reversed their policy the next day and opened the campsite up to media.