University of Missouri President Quits After Months of Student Protests Over Race Relations
The president of the University of Missouri system, Tim Wolfe, announced on Monday that he was resigning after a perceived lack of action on his part in response to months of student protests over a series of racially-charged, on-campus incidents.
“Use my resignation to heal and start talking again,” Wolfe said during a special meeting of the university system's governing body, the Board of Curators, in Columbia, according to reports.
Wolfe said he takes "full responsibility for the frustration" students had expressed regarding racial issues and that it "is clear" and "real," the Associated Press reported.
Black student groups have been speaking out for months against racial issues on campus and an administration they said has been unresponsive to the issues.
On November 2, Jonathan Butler, a 25-year-old University of Missouri graduate student, went on a hunger strike that he said he would not end until Wolfe was removed from his position.
"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 in a letter announcing the hunger strike.
It had been a week since Butler announced his protest when Wolfe announced his resignation.
Butler later wrote on Twitter that his hunger strike was over.
The #MizzouHungerStrike is officially over!— JB. (@_JonathanButler) November 9, 2015
Thirty black football players also protested Wolfe's position, announcing over the weekend that they wouldn't play any games until the president was removed.
The University's athletic department's official Twitter account, @MizzouAthletics, acknowledged the players' plans to strike, writing on Saturday: "The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our athletes right to do so."
Mack Rhoades, the university's athletic director, and Mizzou Football head coach Gary Pinkel, released a joint statement at the time, saying: "Today, Sunday, there will be no football practice or formal team activities. Our focus right now is on the health of Jonathan Butler, the concerns of our student-athletes and working with our community to address this serious issue. After meeting with the team this morning, it is clear they do not plan to return to practice until Jonathan resumes eating. We are continuing to have department, campus and student meetings as we work through this issue and will provide further comment tomorrow afternoon."
The Board of Curators will ultimately choose Wolfe's replacement, the Times wrote.