MU students report racial harassment, town hall meeting scheduled in response

2 months 4 days 8 hours ago September 28, 2016 Sep 28, 2016 Wednesday, September 28 2016 Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:23:00 AM CDT in News
By: Laura Barczewski, KOMU 8 Reporter, Steve Lambson, KOMU 8 Content Manager and Tyler Emery, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

COLUMBIA - The Legion of Black Collegians, a student organization at the University of Missouri, reported two of its members being racially harassed late Tuesday.

A statement by LBC on Wednesday said a group of white males and females walked past members of the Legion's activities committee, with one of the females yelling a racial slur. Other Legion members joined the two students out of safety concerns, and MU police approached them to see what was going on. This apparently happened near the Delta Upsilon fraternity.

At that point, according to the LBC's statement, some Delta Upsilon members started shouting other racial slurs and obscenities while recording what was happening.

LBC's statement claims MU police then tried to restrain the Legion members instead of the alleged harassers, with one officer apparently "using excessive verbal force WITH his hand on his gun."

LBC scheduled a town hall meeting for Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. to discuss what happened. Members also posted an offer for counseling on the group's Twitter account.

Dr. Stephanie Shonekan, an MU Black Studies professor, said the students are currently trying to process everything that happened and what it all means for the future.

"Every time something like this happens it takes us back spiraling down in history. All of the history becomes present again," Shonekan said.

Students on campus were also very concerned about the incident and felt unsafe.

"I'm in the middle of farm town Missouri, and I'm black. I mean inherently I feel uneasy when I'm walking around. I feel safer at home in St. Louis downtown, in the city, than I do in Columbia right now," Craymon Mays said. 

Other students are upset because they feel like the past is repeating it self.

"I was honestly kind of upset to hear about it. After last year, I thought that we were taking steps to improve and kind of fix everything that happened. It's just kind of sad to hear that that's just not taking as much of effect as we thought it would," Elizabeth Etling said.

MU officials released a statement in response to the statement from LBC. They said The Office of Civil Rights and Title IX as well as the Office of Student Conduct had been notified.

According to the statement, Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Kevin McDonald is reaching out to the students affected by the incident. The MU Counseling Center staff is also reaching out. 

The statement included a response from Interim Chancellor Hank Foley:

“I am outraged and saddened to hear of this! The safety and security of our campus is our No. 1 priority; the University of Missouri is committed to fostering an inclusive campus environment where all students, faculty, staff and visitors can live, learn, work and feel safe,” said Hank Foley, interim chancellor. “We have zero tolerance for actions like this; if any student is found in violation of the Student Code and/or the University’s nondiscrimination policies, they will be subject to discipline, up to and including suspension and/or expulsion. As we have stated, this is a new day on campus and we take our core values of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence seriously.”

KOMU 8 News reached out to MU police for an official police report of the incident. 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the most recent information.]

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