MU students discuss race relations with chancellor

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COLUMBIA - Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin hosted a race relations forum on the MU campus Tuesday evening. 

Students as well as faculty and staff were invited to address race relations and how they relate to the university experience outside of the classroom. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and Vice Chancellor Cathy Scroggs hosted the event and asked to hear the student perspective on issues of race, diversity, and safety. 

Missouri Students Association President Payton Head also spoke, reinforcing the idea that MU students need to become more culturally sensitive and aware. 

Several students also raised questions and concerns regarding mandatory diversity training for faculty and eventually all students, lack of diversity within the chancellor's administration as well as teaching faculty, and the general mentality on campus regarding minority students. 

The chancellor addressed many of the concerns with encouragement but asked for patience. 

"No change of this nature is going to be quick," he said. "I can't change a human heart."

Loftin said the university has several plans in place to reverse the trend of cultural ignorance on campus. He mentioned improvements in Summer Welcome training for the fall as well as regularly scheduled meetings with faculty and students to discuss racial issues, of which this forum was a part. 

Some demands from students included mandatory diversity training for all university staff, compulsory courses relating to diversity and race relations, and a greater effort by the chancellor to be more transparent in his administration's efforts to fix these issues. 

"Many people tell me, 'There is no problem, I'm not a racist, there is no problem,'" Loftin said. "If you start with that premise, there is no solution."

Recently, KOMU 8 also reported on MU's Inter-Fraternal council discussion of the Oklahoma University SAE fraternity chant. Read that article for more information.