MURPHY: A timeline of events and opining Mizzou protests

Photo by Doug Peters

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Ryan Murphy

The protesters at the University of Missouri have been in the news a lot lately, but many of us have a hard time understanding what the controversy is all about.

I have put together a timeline to understand just what is going on. One shouldn’t pretend to have an opinion without an understanding of the facts. So here it is: the when and who of the protesters at Mizzou:

Fri., Sept. 11: A group of people in a truck scream the n-word at Student Body President Payton Head.  Head’s Facebook post about the incident goes viral. Chancellor Loftin releases a statement insisting that “Mizzou will not tolerate hate.”

Mon., Oct. 5: A rehearsal for the Legion of Black Collegiate’s play is interrupted by drunk man who calls them the n-word.

Thurs., Oct. 8:  In response to the incident above, Chancellor Loftin announced mandatory online diversity training for students, faculty, and staff, beginning in January.

Sat., Oct. 10: A group of black students block President Tim Wolfe’s car during the homecoming parade to protest racism on campus. They are heckled by the crowd and one is hit by the car.

Sat., Oct. 24:   In a Mizzou dorm bathroom, a swastika is found smeared on the wall with feces.  Residence Halls Association President Billy Donley calls it “an act of hate.”

Fri., Nov. 2:  Jonathan Butler announces his hunger strike, demanding President Wolfe’s resignation.

Friday, Nov. 6:  Butler and Wolfe meet, and Wolfe releases expressing concern for Butler’s heath and acknowledging racism on campus.

Sat., Nov. 7:  Mizzou’s football players of color go on strike, demanding President Wolfe’s resignation.

Mon., Nov. 9:  

-Wolfe resigns. 

-Protesters (including Melissa Click, an assistant professor of mass media) demand that freelance photographer and student journalist Tim Tai leave the public property where they stage their demonstration.

Tues., Nov. 10:  

Anonymous threats to kill black people are posted on Yik Yak.

Student Body President Payton Head falsely claims the KKK is on campus. He later apologizes.

Wed., Nov. 11:  

-The University issues a safety alert to the campus at 8:30 a.m.

Connor Stottlemyre and Hunter Park are arrested for allegedly posting the threats. Neither attend Mizzou.

-Black students, afraid for their safety, set up a “safe space” in the Black Culture Center and walk to class in groups.

-Concerned Students 1950, the group responsible for much of the organization of the protests, divides protesters into white and black groups so that black students can have a “black-only healing space.”

Sat., Nov. 14:  Mizzou beats BYU 20 to 16 


I have tried to be thorough sifting through the sea of facts and dates. Undoubtedly, some will think I have unnecessarily or unjustly left out important information – to them I can only offer my sincere apology.  Indeed, the hardest part was deciding where to begin – should one start in 1950, when the first black student was admitted to the university?  Or in 2010, when cotton balls were spread before the Black Culture Center? I chose to begin at the start of this academic year.

The protesters did succeed in having Mr. Wolfe removed. From what I could gather, they felt that Mr. Wolfe did not respond quickly or forcefully enough to instances of racism. Perhaps he was targeted more for what he symbolized than for whatever he did or did not do. A white, straight male who had previously worked in business, Wolfe represented exactly the sort of privilege the protesters were speaking out against.  

I suspect whether or not Wolfe’s resignation was justified will be debated for a long time to come. Melissa Click’s now infamous hassling of Mr. Tai has rekindled the debate surrounding free speech. Like them or not, the Mizzou students have gotten the nation talking.

I do remain confused by the need for “black-only healing spaces.” It seems rather counter-intuitive that a group named for the desegregation of the university would choose to segregate its own members.

Whether or not their other demands will be met remains to be seen.