The PJ Tatler

Missouri President Resigns, but Reports of Violent Assaults Go Unaddressed

Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri, announced Monday he was resigning immediately amid mounting pressure from black activists that he wasn’t doing enough to handle reports of racism of campus. The controversy drew national media coverage over the weekend after the football team announced it would go on strike until Wolfe stepped down or was fired.

However, national media has ignored stories of dozens of mostly black-on-white violent assaults that have recently occurred on or near the campus in Columbia, Missouri. In one recent case, the son of of a former state rep was beaten so badly he had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery. Racism should be condemned whenever it rears its head, but what has ensued at Missouri appears to be a gross overreaction, especially when compared to the scant attention the assaults have garnered.

Payton Head, MU senior and president of MSA, got the ball rolling back in September with a Facebook post about his alleged experience with racism. Head complained that he was walking around campus when the passenger of a pickup repeatedly shouted the “N-word” at him.

Another alleged incident occurred on October 5:

The Legion of Black Collegians shared a letter on social media describing the group’s encounter with overt racism the night before. The group was rehearsing for a performance at Traditions Plaza when a “young man” talking on his cellphone walked up to the group. After being politely and repeatedly asked to leave, the man walked away but referenced LBC members using racial slurs.

On October 10, a black activist group known as “Concerned Student 1950” (referring to the year African-American students were first admitted to MU)  blocked Wolfe’s car during Homecoming “to send the message that students will not be ignored by administrators on the issue of discrimination on campus.”

On October 24, some vandalism was reported:

A swastika using human feces is drawn on a bathroom wall in MU’s Gateway Hall … The vandalism was reported immediately to the MU Police Department and an investigation initiated, but no one has been apprehended to date.

Racist hate crimes on college campuses very often turn out to be hoaxes.

On November 2, Jonathan Butler, MU graduate student and campus activist, announced that he would go on a hunger strike until Wolfe was removed from office. Activists also presented a list of eight demands of the university, including:

  • A news conference of Wolfe reading a handwritten, formal apology.

  • The immediate removal of Wolfe as UM system president.

  • Enforcement of mandatory racial awareness and inclusion curriculum for all faculty, staff and students, controlled by a board of color.

  • An increase in the percentage of black faculty and staff to 10 percent by the 2017-18 academic year, and the development by May 1 of a 10-year plan to promote a safer, more inclusive campus.

  • An increase in funding to hire more mental health professionals for the MU Counseling Center, particularly those of color, and more staff for the social justice centers on campus.

MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin responded with a post “acknowledging and condemning racism at MU.” On October 8, he announced “mandatory online diversity training for faculty, staff and students.” But the mandated diversity training was reportedly “met with skepticism and suspicion,” and wasn’t enough for the activists, who still demanded Wolfe’s job. Today they got it.

“Tim Wolfe” is currently trending on Twitter. Not trending on Twitter: the young man who required facial reconstruction after getting beaten, and a young woman who now has trouble breathing after someone punched her in the nose.Fox 2 St. Louis has uncovered dozens of other violent assaults near the campus in recent months, many of which appear to be examples of the “knockout game,” a type of assault that is perpetrated almost exclusively by black males:

Last May, Thomas Riddick was walking alone from a Broadway bar, heading down Hitt Street.

He said, “I was tapped on the shoulder by someone I assumed came out of this garage. I turned around straight to a punch to my face.” He added, “One of my friends was walking back from a bar about ten minutes later. She recognized me knocked out on the ground bleeding everywhere.”

Riddick said he woke up in the arms of an EMT. He said, “I had no idea what just happened.” His wallet was gone.

Riddick was not the only one violently attacked last May. The Phi Delta Theta fraternity reported an armed invasion.

Dee Baebler said, “It’s not hype if the small group of people that I know in Columbia have a personal connection to at least one person that’s been violently attacked.”

Baebler is a St. Louis mom of a Mizzou student, who’s talked to several families she says are too afraid to speak out about their child’s attacks. She said, “Guys that are walking home get beaten up, get jumped and kicked beaten within an inch of their life.”

In December, former MO State Representative Jeff Grisamore tweeted, “requesting prayers for my son, Joel. He just went into facial reconstruction surgery in Columbia after attack by 2 unknown assailants.” Grisamore declined to talk on camera because the assault remains unsolved.

Babble started a Change.org petition: “Improve Safety and Security of Mizzou Students Immediately!”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8u6w0sVa6s