Race on College Campuses: What’s Happening Now?
Campus protests over race spread from Mizzou to the rest of the country.
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
November 20, 2015
They say history has a way of repeating itself, and at several colleges and universities across the country, that’s the case right now. African American students as well as other minority and underrepresented groups on college campuses have banded together to demand an end to racial tension from administrators as well as their peers. Today, these individuals echo the thoughts, opinions and call for change that once rang loud and clear on college campuses decades ago.
While these events have been unfolding at multiple universities over the past year or so, The University of Missouri has become a sort of “ground zero” for these racial protests. This semester, African American students on campus have been subjugated to threats, racial slurs and an incident of anonymous vandalizing on a university residence hall. When the administration was confronted with these circumstances, it remained silent.
On October 10, members of Concerned Student 1950, an on-campus organization named after the first black graduate that began attending the university, blocked the University president’s car during a campus parade to demand his attention, according to The Atlantic. Rather than talking with the group, the University president’s driver revved the engine and tapped one of the students with the vehicle.
On November 2, Jonathan Butler, a member of the Concerned Student 1950 organization, began a hunger strike, as reported by The Atlantic. In addition to demanding that the University president resign, he also pushed for mandatory racial awareness and inclusion curriculum for faculty, staff and students of the university, an increase in Black faculty and staff to 10% by the 2017 – 18 academic school year, and an increase in more mental health professionals of color for the MU Counseling Center.
The increase in racial tension, along with Butler’s hunger strike, prompted Tim Wolfe, the University president, as well as the Chancellor to officially resign on November 9, according to ABC News.
Though the students still have a fight against the campus culture ahead of them, their actions have prompted change not only at their university but at others across the country. In addition to Mizzou, at least 11 other universities have organized protests and made their own set of demands for greater racial equality on their campus. As found on both The Huffington Post and The New York Times, the other schools are as follows:
• Purdue University
• Yale University
• Amherst College
• Georgetown University
• Arizona State University
• Claremont McKenna College
• Occidental College
• University of California, Los Angeles
• University of Michigan
• University of Oklahoma
• Emory University
No doubt this list will only grow longer – if it hasn’t already – and this doesn’t seem to be an issue that will lose momentum. Students are organized, passionate and willing to go to extremes to improve campus climates all across the country. Hopefully, these peaceful protests bring about real, lasting change to campuses, fostering environments of safety and equality for all.
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