After former University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe resigned yesterday, hunger-striking student Jonathan Butler relented and reportedly ate. On October 20, “Concerned Student 1950” reportedly released a list of demands; Butler’s hunger strike was said to be in support of the initiative, according to ABC.
University of Missouri Chancellor Richard Bowen Loftin announced that he will resign his position later in the year, according to Yahoo! Sports.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “dozens” of Mizzou footballs players boycotted “all team activities” over the weekend, as long as Tim Wolfe was still the president of the university. Less than two days later, Wolfe resigned.
As the days of Jonathan Butler’s hunger strike wore on, members of the football coaching staff were left in a compromising position, clearly concerned with Butler’s health, but at the same time not wanting to appear antagonistic to the university president.
“I got involved because I support my players and a young man’s life was on the line,” Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel was quoted. “It had nothing to do with anyone losing their job. Football became secondary.”
The last two months at the University of Missouri has been rather extraordinary, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On September 12, the president of the campus student organization, Payton Head, reported a person who felt it was OK “to continuously scream [the N-word]” at him.
Then, other students began to be “targeted” and the situation appeared to escalate.
Then, the Mizzou chancellor, Richard Bowen Loftin, posted a video to YouTube, stating “enough is enough” with racism and hatred. Students, especially those connected with “Concerned Student 1950” were said to feel that the response was “insufficient.” The number 1950 refers to the first year black students were admitted to the University of Missouri.
Then, the Concerned Student 1950 group circulated a list of demands, including the resignation of president Tim Wolfe. Until the football team got involved, it appeared that for the most part, the demands of the students fell on deaf ears.
Further exacerbating the situation, a Swastika was reported to be found in a Mizzou bathroom, said to be “drawn” with feces.
On Nov. 2, Jonathan Butler began his hunger strike, and Concerned Student 1950 conducted a boycott of school services, merchandise, university events, and dining functions.
On Saturday, November 7, the football team was said to give its support for Butler’s hunger strike, saying that they would join the boycott of Mizzou activities. On Sunday, the University of Missouri Students Association released a letter demanding Wolfe’s resignation.
Yesterday, now former University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned
“The frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don’t doubt it for a second,” Wolfe stated in his resignation announcement.
After Wolfe announced his resignation, Butler gave up his hunger strike, and students who had gathered to protest on the University of Missouri campus were reported to celebrate with vigor.
Then, Payton Head, who had first had racial epithets hurled at him two months ago, took to Twitter to thank and encourage others.
We MUST love and support each other.— Payton Head (@MSAPresident) November 9, 2015
Jonathan Butler can eat now. Tim Wolfe has resigned as president of the UM System.— Payton Head (@MSAPresident) November 9, 2015
The Los Angeles Times called the move by the Missouri football players the “most public example yet of the growing boldness by college athletes to leverage their positions to affect change on campus and beyond.”
B. David Ridpath, a sports administration professor with Ohio University, called the incident a “watershed moment” that is allowing athletes to realize that they may have more power than they once imagined. The football program at Missouri is said to account for some $40 million in annual revenue, much of it based on the willing cooperation of the university’s athletes.
“If the athletes sit down, then the games aren’t going to happen,” Ridpath was quoted. “There’s nothing that any multimillion-dollar coach, college sports athletics director or booster can do.”
[Feature Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images]