One year later: How MU leaders have worked to address diversity issues

7 months 1 week 6 days ago November 09, 2016 Nov 9, 2016 Wednesday, November 09 2016 Wednesday, November 09, 2016 3:05:00 PM CST in News
By: Brittany Pieper, KOMU 8 Anchor

COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri has taken several steps to address the demands issued by Concerned Student 1950 a year ago. Those demands and student protests, including a hunger strike by graduate student Jonathan Butler and a boycott by the football team, led to the resignations of multiple university leaders and national attention.

The list of demands below is followed by how university officials have reacted.

I. We demand that the University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a handwritten apology to the Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white male privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exist, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demands. We want Tim Wolfe to admit to his gross negligence, allowing his driver to hit one of the demonstrators, consenting to the physical violence of bystanders, and lastly refusing to intervene when Columbia Police Department used excessive force with demonstrators.

II. We demand the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe as UM system president. After his removal a new amendment to UM system policies must be established to have all future UM system president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.

III. We demand that the University of Missouri meets the Legion of Black Collegians' demands that were presented in 1969 for the betterment of the black community.

IV. We demand that the University of Missouri creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and administration. This curriculum must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff, and faculty of color.

V. We demand that by the academic year 2017-2018, the University of Missouri increases the percentage of black faculty and staff campus-wide to 10%.

VI. We demand that the University of Missouri composes a strategic 10 year plan by May 1, 2016 that will increase retention rates for marginalized students, sustain diversity curriculum and training, and promote a more safe and inclusive campus.

VII. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals? particularly those of color, boosting mental health outreach and programming across campus, increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility of the counseling center, and reducing lengthy wait times for prospective clients.

VIII. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources, and personnel for the social justices centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus, and increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility.

The group reissued the demands with more detail in February 2016. While Interim UM System President Mike Middleton responded to the February list by saying the time for demands is over, many university initiatives do address the concerns expressed.

The first two demands on the list, an apology and resignation of former President Tim Wolfe, happened on November 9, 2015.

Other ways the university has responded include a new racial awareness and inclusion curriculum and increased funding for counseling services.

"In an effort to strengthen outreach efforts to diverse populations on campus, the MU Counseling Center hired two psychologists of color, a post-intern of color and an additional intern of color," Kevin McDonald, UM System Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, said.

Another demand was 10 percent black faculty and staff by the 2017-2018 school year. While the university does not plan to meet this, it has set a goal of doubling the percentage of historically underrepresented minority groups to 13.4 percent of the faculty in the next four years.

"It's going to have to be a significant number. It's going to have to be around 30 percent. It's going to have to be higher than our average right now. Maybe 50 percent some years," Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said when asked how many minorities the university would have to hire to meet its goal.

At a news conference in September, MU leaders reiterated they are committed to working on issues of diversity and inclusion, and they announced more than a million dollars would go toward efforts to meet minority hiring goals.

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