Allegations at the University of Missouri have shattered the idea that racism is a thing of the past for the younger generation. Black students at the University of Missouri have reported being insulted with racial slurs, threatened by masked men, and witnessed a swastika smeared in excrement on a university wall.
Two white college students, Connor B. Stottlemyre and Hunter Park, have been arrested for making death threats towards Black students on the social media app Yik Yak. The Black students’ protests received national attention when the football team threatened to go on strike unless the administration addressed the racial unrest. University President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin later resigned over the incident. Michael A. Middleton has been named as interim president.
However, the University of Missouri protests have spurred similar demonstrations from Black students at campuses around the country. NBC News reports students at Yale University, Ithaca College, St. John’s University, Syracuse University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have all staged protests in solidarity with University of Missouri students. Students at Howard have also reported receiving death threats on social media.
The threat was apparently posted by a person who was angry at Black people constantly complaining about racism. He also blamed Black protesters for forcing former University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe from his job and promised to “go out as a hero.” The post finished with the ominous statement, “After all, it’s not murder if they’re black.”
— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) November 12, 2015
Students at Ithaca College staged a walkout to take a stand for “for all the injustices students of color face on this campus and other colleges.” Ithaca students also complained about several racially charged incidents on campus, including a prominent alumnus who referred to a Black student as a “savage.”
President President Tom Rochon angered Black students when he said the university could not prevent the use of hurtful language on campus or promise not to host a speaker who might say something offensive.
NBC News also reported thousands of Yale students and faculty members took part in a “march of resistance” on Monday to protest racial incidents on campus. Students of color were upset about a Sigma Alpha Epsilon party that allegedly had a “white girls only” policy.
Tensions were also raised when university administrators sent an email reminding students to show racial sensitivity when choosing Halloween costumes. However, a Yale professor responded by saying, “Is there no room anymore for a child to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”
The demonstrations at the University of Missouri have spurred a national discussion on the state of race relations on college campuses. The conversation has been carried on Twitter through the hashtag #BlackOnCampus, which was started by a University of Missouri group called Concerned Student 1950. The group is named after the year when the first Black student was admitted to Mizzou. Black students have shared some of the racial incidents they’ve faced at college.
“Terrorism being called ‘bullying’ by professors,” wrote Twitter user, muva doc.
The campus protests have been picked up by 2016 presidential candidates. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a veteran civil rights activist, tweeted, “I’m listening to the #BlackOnCampus conversation. It’s time to address structural racism on college campuses.”
However New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a candidate in the Republican primary, downplayed the students’ accusations and blamed campus unrest on President Barack Obama.
“I think part of this is a product of the president’s own unwillingness and inability to bring people together,” said Christie at a campaign stop in Iowa. “When people think justice is not applied evenly and fairly, they take matters into their own hands.”
Christie also blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for what he claimed was rising attacks on police, even though statistics from the FBI and the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund show attacks on police are at a 45-year low. Several conservative news outlets, including FOX News, blamed Black Lives Matter for the death of Chicago area police officer Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. However, news reports later revealed Gliniewicz committed suicide after he was implicated in corruption charges. Gliniewicz had also been accused of rape and attempted to put a hit out on a Fox Lake city administrator who was looking into his corruption charges.