#MizzouHungerStrike: ‘Black Lives Matter’
Since Monday, members of the University of Missouri-Columbia’s African-American student population and its allies have been on a hunger strike.
Why? To raise awareness about the importance of Black lives on campus, and call for the removal of Tim Wolfe as university president.
The #MizzouHungerStrike launched early this week after student activist Jonathan Butler sent a letter to the UM System Board of Curators, the Columbia Missourian reports.
“During this hunger strike, I will not consume any food or nutritional sustenance at the expense of my health until either Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost,” Butler wrote.
Butler, who is a candidate for a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy analysis, said the protest is in response to “a slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents that have dynamically disrupted the learning experience.”
Students have reported instances where they were called racial slurs while on campus and the environment appears to be increasingly unwelcoming for students of color.
On Oct. 24 a swastika drawn with human feces was found in an MU resident hall.
“Although these incidents individually are not [President Wolfe’s] fault as a collection of incidents at the university they are his responsibility to address,” wrote Butler, who is also a member of the MU Faculty Council’s race relations committee. “According to his job description on the UM system website the president is to, ‘Create a positive learning environment that enables students to achieve their full academic potential.'”
MU also released a statement through MU spokesman Christian Basi:
“Chancellor Loftin continues to be willing to meet with representatives from student groups, including Concerned Student 1950. Additionally, Chancellor Loftin and his staff will continue to meet with student leaders, faculty and staff, as we take steps to acknowledge our past, create a more inclusive campus and build a better future at Mizzou.
“Chancellor Loftin and his administrative staff are concerned about the health and well-being of Mr. Butler, as we are with all of our students. We respect Mr. Butler’s right to protest in this manner, but sincerely hope he will not suffer from his actions. We offer many resources to support students’ health and wellbeing, all of which are available to Mr. Butler…”
Students at the university have launched a petition on Change.org calling for Wolfe’s firing.
Check back for updates.