The University of Missouri football team announced a strike on Saturday in support of the Concerned Student 1950 group, which has published a list of demands regarding recent racist behavior on campus. The strike, led by graduate student Jonathan Butler, was officially ended after University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe resigned Monday, players announced on social media.
Previously, Missouri's football game against BYU on Saturday, November 14, was in doubt, as players said they would not participate in practice or games until their demands were met. Now, it appears the game will go on as previously planned.
Here is everything you need to know about the situation, with the full timeline.
What was the strike supporting?
The strike supported the Missouri student movement named #ConcernedStudent1950. The movement published a list of demands on October 23, which included measures for more inclusion of black students and faculty and the removal of University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe. Involved students felt he had inadequately responded to racist incidents on campus and had not cracked down on a racist culture.
Wolfe resigned Monday morning.
Mostly, the strike was about respect, as Bill Connelly wrote:
Black students are not being denied enrollment. They're not being kept in segregated housing. There are not governors or police officers preventing them from attending class. This is not the 1960s.
But the bar is justifiably a lot higher in 2015, and while "oppression" by definition might not be involved, respect is. The offenses here are more anecdotal than systemic, but that's enough, isn't it? In 2015, when your student body president is being harassed, and when you cannot post publicly about that on social media without getting bullied, it isn't too much to hope that your university leaders will publicly lend you support.
And if you do not receive that support, it probably makes sense that you would want said leadership removed.
What were the racist incidents?
Students pointed to three incidents that showed the need for change. The first was when Payton Head, the president of the Missouri Students Association, was called a racial expletive repeatedly by men in a truck. The second was when a student yelled racial slurs at a group of members from the Legion of Black Collegians and a police officer allegedly stood by and did nothing. The third was when a swastika was found, drawn in human feces, on the wall of a dorm bathroom.
There have been other issues, as detailed by Yik Yak posts Head tweeted.
Wolfe did not engage with protestors at the Homecoming parade, but has since apologized for that. However, Wolfe was filmed on November 6, giving a poor answer on what "systematic oppression" is.
Former Missouri basketball star Kim English weighed in on race relations at Mizzou.
If U were black at my alma mater, and ur name was not Maclin, Denmon, Pressey, English, Weatherspoon, Carroll, etc. You didn't feel welcome— Kim English (@Englishscope24) November 8, 2015
What are the non-racial aspects of the strike?
The strike was also against some university policy decisions, including the removal of graduate student subsidies and the cancellation of contracts with Planned Parenthood.
What was the hunger strike?
Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler announced on November 2 that he would begin a hunger strike until Wolfe was removed from office. Other members of the student body joined by boycotting student services, such as spending money at the student center or attending football games.
Others are camping out on campus, where some faculty announced plans to join students.
Who was striking on the football team?
On November 7, roughly 30 black football players appeared in a photo announcing plans to strike. On November, 8, head coach Gary Pinkel tweeted a photo of the team locking arms, saying players and coaches all stood together.
The team did not practice Sunday ahead of its game against BYU. If the game had been canceled, it appears the school could have owed BYU $1 million. From a football standpoint, Mizzou is 4-5 and would have had an even tougher time making a bowl game.
Was the strike unanimous?
There have been differing statements on the level of support, with one anonymous white player telling ESPN the following:
Mizzou player tells @ESPN, MU players & coaches "are pissed (about halting football practices). If we were 9-0 this wouldn't be happening."— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 9, 2015
@EdgeofSports has nothing to do with our coaches. Our coaches are 100% behind us. Including the white ones— John Gibson III (@thatgibsonkid) November 8, 2015
What ended the strikes?
Safety Anthony Sherrils posted a statement on November 7 that said players would strike until Wolfe is removed.
An athletic department statement on November 8 from Pinkel and athletic director Mack Rhoades said players would not practice or play until Butler ends his hunger strike.
Mizzou athletics/football program releases a statement pic.twitter.com/WSVTbRVSzd— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) November 8, 2015
Now that Wolfe has resigned, Butler announced the hunger strike will end.
The #MizzouHungerStrike is officially over!— JB. (@_JonathanButler) November 9, 2015
Therefore, players announced football is back on.
Bring on the Courgars— Brock Bondurant (@BrockBondurant) November 9, 2015
Prayers were answered although there's a lot more work to do.— Brandon Lee (@Bossmann_4) November 9, 2015
Now we can focus on the game this weekend..— Josh Moore (@JoshMoore_08) November 9, 2015
BYU week... Let's go— Paul Adams (@PaulAdams64) November 9, 2015
Spoke to #Mizzou running back Trevon Walters. He said the Tigers are "for sure" playing this week.— Aaron Reiss (@aaronjreiss) November 9, 2015
What did other leaders have to say?
All of the following weighed in after the team announced its strike and before Wolfe's resignation.
The Missouri Students Association demanded Wolfe's removal.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said he was aware of the situation.
Statement from SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on Missouri protest pic.twitter.com/fFIp4Q9eau— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) November 8, 2015
Missouri governor Jay Nixon said "the concerns must be addressed."
"Racism and intolerance have no place at the University of Missouri or anywhere in our state," Gov. Nixon said. "Our colleges and universities must be havens of trust and understanding. These concerns must be addressed to ensure the University of Missouri is a place where all students can pursue their dreams in an environment of respect, tolerance and inclusion."
Missouri lieutenant governor Peter Kinder said "universities cannot be run by individuals' (sic) making demands or using extreme actions."
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's statement: pic.twitter.com/ytO6TNyylq— KCOU News (@kcounews) November 8, 2015