University of Missouri Student Power and Black Lives Matter! -- Timothy M. Wolfe Ousted

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Student power

In recent months African Americans students had complained about racism on the campuses of the University of Missouri including an incident where a swastika was drawn in human feces in a dorm.

Black students also reported the N-word being yelled at them. One student, Jonathan Butler, in order to attract attention to the rampant racism, had launched a hunger strike.

The students were also inspired in their protests by the BlackLives movement and demonstrations nationally against injustice especially since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Arican Americans make up 7% of the 35,000 student body at the University of Missouri. Maybe that's why the university authorities felt they could ignore the students' demand for quick and decisive action to address the rampant racism. They wanted concrete measures. In addition to attracting more Black students they want measures that would help retain them and they want the recruitment of more African American faculty and staff members.

The students reported that the university president Timothy M. Wolfe remained uninvolved in addressing the problems and that the school administration promised, vaguely, some type of action not immediately, but by next April.

It was then that the students demanded that the university president resign or be fired.

Yesterday this demand was accomplished when Wolfe was forced to resign. The school's chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, also announced that he would resign his post and take another lesser role.

How was this done? Did Wolfe, who had admitted that racism exists on Missouri's campus, suddenly wake up and decide to do the right thing?

No -- it came down to the school's bottomline. Black athletes make up 70% of the players on scholarship --58 out of 84 players-- on the school's football team and they had announced a boycott of practice and games unless the demands of African American students were met that racism be addressed. Missing one game alone would have cost the university about $1 million.

Once the school's athletic department came out in support of the student athletes and their demands it was only a matter of time before Wolfe was ousted.

The players proved that African American college athletes have tremendous clout on campuses allover the country --just like professional athletes do in the NBA, NFL, and in Major League Baseball.

In college athletics, these students aren't paid salary even though they bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for the schools --billions combined-- and coaches in some of the top programs are paid $5 million in salary.

Even as the universities exploit their talents, earning millions, the student athletes --just as with their professional counterparts--have been traditionally encouraged to remain apolitical.

All this may now change with the victory by the students in University of Missouri. Students on other campuses where ugly incidents of racism have been reported may take similar actions.

Even professional athletes may now learn from Missouri that sometimes it's worth taking a stand on some of the critical issues of our time -- just like Muhammad Ali once did when he opposed the Vietnam war and refused to get drafted even though it cost him his professional license during the prime of his boxing career.



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