Mizzou Continues to Pay Price for Placating Liberal Protesters
University that caved to leftists lays off 100 employees and closes seven dorms as enrollment plummets
Nearly two years after the University of Missouri, aka Mizzou, was struck by race-fueled protests that kept it in the national spotlight for months, the university is facing the consequences of caving in to the Left’s agenda.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed ed published Sunday, author Jillian Kay Melchior detailed what she found when she perused thousands of pages of emails from Mizzou alumni obtained through the Missouri Freedom of Information Act. In her article, called “Mizzou Pays a Price for Appeasing the Left,” Melchior pointed to one alumnus in particular: Timothy Vaughn, who was once a “die-hard” fan of his university and attended between 60 and 85 athletic Mizzou events every year, but bailed after “the infamous protests of fall 2015.”
"I pledge from this day forward NOT TO contribute to the [Tiger Scholarship Fund], buy any tickets to any University of Missouri athletic event, to attend any athletic event (even if free), to give away all my MU clothes (nearly my entire wardrobe) after I have removed any logos associated with the University of Missouri, and any cards/helmets/ice buckets/flags with the University of Missouri logo on it," Mr. Vaughn wrote in an email to Mizzou's administrators four semesters ago.
"He was not alone. Thousands of pages of emails I obtained through the Missouri Freedom of Information Act show that many alumni and other supporters were disgusted with administrators' feeble response to the disruptions," Melchior wrote. "Like Mr. Vaughn, many promised they'd stop attending athletic events. Others vowed they'd never send their children or grandchildren to the university. It now appears many of them have made good on those promises."
Mizzou's trouble began in September 2015, when minority students began speaking out against the racism and bigotry they said they had faced on campus, which lead to a protest on September 24 called "Racism Lives Here." In October 2015, the aggrieved students sent a list of demands to the university's administrators, calling for 10 percent of the faculty to be black, for the university's president to hand-write an apology admitting his "white male privilege," and for all students to be required to undergo "comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion" training, among other demands.
Other protests followed, and the minority students also called upon Mizzou's president, Timothy Wolfe, to resign. In November, student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike to decry, what he claimed were, "a slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents that have dynamically disrupted the learning experience," at Mizzou, according to the Columbia Missourian.
"I predict this is just the beginning of continuing widespread public revulsion against the corruption and cowardice rampant in American universities today."
"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 added.
The university's football team refused to practice or play in any games until Mizzou granted the minority students' lengthy list of demands. More protests followed, including one in which assistant communications professor Melissa Click engaged in a videotaped spat with a student photojournalist covering the protest. Click received intense criticism after she was heard calling for some "muscle" to remove the photojournalist by force.
Both Wolfe and Mizzou's chancellor gave in to the protesters' demands and resigned by November 9. Click, whom Mizzou removed from her post in February 2016, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that she was removed because "I'm a white lady. I'm an easy target."
The success the Mizzou protesters found spurred minority students at more than 80 other colleges across the nation to carry out similar protests and issue sets of demands concerning diversity. Former President Barack Obama weighed in on the Mizzou debacle, telling ABC News host George Stephanopoulos in November 2015 that "it is entirely appropriate for students in a thoughtful, peaceful way to protest what they see as injustices or inattention to serious problems in their midst."
"There is clearly a problem at the University of Missouri, and that's not just coming from students. That's coming from some faculty," Obama said. "I want an activist student body just like I want an activist citizenry, and the issue is just making sure that even as these young people are getting engaged, getting involved, speaking out that they're also listening ... I'd rather see them err on the side of activism than being passive."
But two years later, the protests and the series of events surrounding them still haunt Mizzou, its students, its alumni, and its prospective students.
As Melchior noted, Mizzou's freshmen enrollment has plummeted by 35 percent while overall enrollment decreased by 2,000 and clocks in at 33,000 — the university's smallest incoming class since 1999. Seven dorms closed as a result. The university's 2016 football season didn't fare too well, either, as 13,000 fewer attendees showed up. As for basketball games, one-third of the arena's seats remained routinely empty for the 2016 season.
The university was forced to lay off approximately 100 employees and close off 300 positions left vacant as alumni, parents and donors lambasted Mizzou for how it handled the 2015 protests and the minority students' demands.
"At breakfast this morning, my wife and I agreed that MU is NOT a school we would even consider for our three children," 1978 alumnus Victor Wirtz wrote in an email obtained by Melchior, adding that the university "has devolved into the [UC] Berkeley of the Midwest."
Dr. John Fonte, a senior fellow and director of the Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute, told LifeZette in an email that "it is not surprising that what appears to be an important segment of the 'Mizzou community' is in open revolt against the pusillanimous response of the university's spineless administrators to student (and faculty, in the case of Melissa Click) thugs."
"I predict this is just the beginning of continuing widespread public revulsion against the corruption and cowardice rampant in American universities today," he warned.
(photo credit, homepage and article images: Mark Schierbecker)