Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, November 10, 2015
On Monday, University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, and system president, Tim Wolfe, stepped down as escalating protests over racism and bias incidents began to paralyze the campus. Protesters, angry at the response from Wolfe to their concerns, demanded his removal with a hunger strike, boycotts, and the football team refusing to play.
So while people around the country were reacting to the surprising news that protesters had toppled the leadership–whether with pride for students demanding an end to complacency about racism, or with disdain for the university system’s governing body for being “bullied” by students–the Concerned Student 1950 group of activists was digging in for the next round.
They demanded an immediate meeting with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, the University of Missouri System Board of Curators and the Mizzou faculty council to talk about shared governance.
And they demanded that a process be developed which would involve non-white students, faculty and staff in the selection of the next system president.
A spokesman for the university system wrote that “Board Chair Donald Cupps expressed an interest for the full board to meet with the members of the ConcernedStudent1950 group, and is trying to find a date to make that happen.”
A spokesman for the governor responded by e-mail: “The Governor is always open to hearing from Missourians about their perspectives on the challenges we face and their ideas for moving the state forward.”
Ben Trachtenberg, the chair of Mizzou’s faculty council and a member of the faculty council that represents all four universities in the state system, said that both groups have already reached out to Concerned Student 1950, named for the first black undergraduate to attend the school, to express their willingness to talk with them about shared governance.
“There’s no reason why faculty wouldn’t want to meet with a group of well-motivated students who have been thinking about how the university should be run,” Trachtenberg said Tuesday morning. “There’s a lot to be done. I think people of goodwill need to come together and talk things over. People need to get together and talk to each other.”
As for their second demand, he said, “I think it would be a smart idea for there to be some student input into the selection of the next system president.