The Latest: Missouri student government president weighs in

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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 12:31 AM
The Latest: Missouri student government president weighs in

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The latest on the protests and turmoil over racially charged incidents at the University of Missouri (all times local):

10 p.m.

The student government president at the University of Missouri is calling new initiatives that aim to address issues of race and discrimination steps "in the right direction."

Missouri Students Association President Payton Head, who is black, said he had been hoping for change and was glad to see the ideas put forward Monday by the four-campus system's governing body.

The university system said it will appoint its first chief officer for diversity, inclusion and equity, and it pledged to work toward a more diverse faculty and staff, among other things.

Also Monday, system President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced their resignations.

Head spoke out earlier this year about racial tensions on campus after he said people in a passing pickup truck shouted slurs at him.

He says he doesn't think the changes will end the tensions on campus. He says that's because many students weren't aware of the underlying issues that stirred months of protests.

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6 p.m.

The University of Missouri senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies will serve as interim chancellor for the Columbia campus after R. Bowen Loftin's resignation takes effect at the end of the year.

Hank Foley said he has not yet met with members of Concerned Student 1950. Student members of that group have been protesting of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe's handling of racial issues. Wolfe and the Columbia campus Chancellor resigned Monday.

Foley said meeting with members of Concerned Student 1950 is "among the next steps."

Foley said he wants "to make people feel included and make them feel that this is their campus."

Foley also is the University of Missouri system's executive vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development.

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5:10 p.m.

The University of Missouri System plans to enact several initiatives in the next 90 days to address racial turmoil that led to the resignations of President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

The university system said in a news release Monday that it will appoint its first chief officer for diversity, inclusion and equity. It also plans a review of all university policies related to staff and student conduct and to provide more support to those who experience discrimination. It also pledges to work toward a more diverse faculty and staff.

Task forces addressing inclusion will be required on all four of its campuses.

Wolfe's resignation was effective immediately. Loftin will step down at the end of the year to take another job at the school.

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4:45 p.m.

The embattled chancellor of the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia says he's stepping down at the end of the year to take a different position.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin's announcement Monday came hours after the university system's president, Tim Wolfe, said he was resigning, effective immediately.

Black student groups had been calling for leadership changes at the university, saying it had done a poor job of responding to complaints about racial issues, including that minority students had been subjected to slurs.

The deans of nine university departments wrote to Wolfe and the university system's governing board on Monday calling for Loftin's removal, citing a "deep concern about the multitude of crises on our flagship campus."

As president, Wolfe oversaw all four University of Missouri campuses.

3:10 p.m.

A group that led the push to oust the University of Missouri System's president says it wants a say in choosing his replacement and wants the percentage of black faculty doubled, among other things.

Members of Concerned Students 1950 said Monday after President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation that they want meet with the university's governing board, the faculty council and Gov. Jay Nixon to discuss their demands in detail.

Among the other desired changes they mentioned is a greater emphasis on shared governance and more inclusivity for minority students. The university's flagship campus in Columbia is overwhelmingly white.

Graduate student Jonathan Butler, who ended a weeklong hunger strike Monday, says it took the administration much too long to react to the complaints.

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2:30 p.m.

A University of Missouri Republican student group is apologizing for a tweet likening students protesting the school's handling of racial issues with Islamic extremism.

The Mizzou College Republicans deleted the Monday morning tweet and said in a follow-up tweet that the post was "the opinion of one individual" and not "a reflection of our organization." The group didn't identify the person who sent the original tweet and didn't respond to requests for comment.

The deleted tweet included the caption "Seen today at #ConceredStudent1950," which was a misspelled reference to Concerned Student 1950, a black student group leading the protests. It showed a photo of scarf-wearing protesters and linked to an article with the headline "Muslim student supports new Holocaust" and a reference below to a "terrorist neckerchief."

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1:05 p.m.

University of Missouri officials say the football team will resume its regular activities following the resignation of the university system president.

Athletics Director Mack Rhoades and head football coach Gary Pinkel said in a joint statement that there will be a news conference later Monday. The team will resume practicing Tuesday, as it typically does.

The announcement came hours after university system President Tim Wolfe said he was stepping down amid criticism over his administration's handling of racial issues.

Black student groups that complained for months about Wolfe's leadership got a big boost over the weekend when 30 black football players said they wouldn't take part in team activities until Wolfe was gone.

Pinkel sent a tweet of support for his protesting players on Sunday.

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12:40 p.m.

A University of Missouri graduate student who endured a week-long hunger strike to protest the administration's handling of racial issues has joined celebrating demonstrators on the Columbia campus.

Jonathan Butler tweeted that he was ending his hunger strike after university system President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation Monday.

Butler, whose hunger strike began Nov. 2, appeared weak and unsteady as two people helped him past a human chain and into a sea of celebrants. Many broke into dance at seeing him.

Black student groups have complained for months about the administration's handling of racial issues, including slurs that have been directed at minority students. They got a boost over the weekend when 30 black football players said they wouldn't take part in team activities until Wolfe was gone.

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12:20 p.m.

Gov. Jay Nixon says the resignation of the University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe was a necessary step toward "healing and reconciliation" at the school.

The Democratic governor issued his statement Monday after Wolfe announced that he was stepping down amid criticism of his handling of racial issues.

Black student groups at the school's flagship campus in Columbia have been complaining for months over the university's handling of such matters, including racial slurs that have been directed at students.

The issue came to a head over the weekend when 30 black members of Missouri's football team said they wouldn't take part in team activities until Wolfe was removed.

After Wolfe's announcement, a black graduate student said he was ending his week-long hunger strike meant to force the president's ouster.

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11:50 a.m.

An adjunct professor at the University of Missouri says the school has had racial problems for decades.

Carl Kenney, a 1986 Missouri graduate who is also the pastor of a local church, says the current problems on campus run much deeper than the leadership of university system President Tim Wolfe, who announced Monday that he's resigning.

Kenney says minority students and faculty feel as if they don't belong on campus unless they are football or basketball players. He says the atmosphere has been tense on campus since the university didn't respond last year to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Kenney says that even though the racial problems aren't new, it took a threatened strike by 30 black football players to get the administration to act.

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11:20 a.m.

Protesting students and faculty members are celebrating the University of Missouri System president's announcement that he is resigning amid anger over his treatment of racial issues.

The students and educators at the system's flagship campus in Columbia hugged and chanted when President Tim Wolfe's announced Monday that he was stepping down.

Katelyn Brown, a white sophomore from Liberty, said she wasn't necessarily aware of chronic racism at the school. But she applauded the efforts of black students groups who have complained for months about racial slurs and inequality on the overwhelmingly white Columbia campus.

Their efforts got a boost over the weekend when 30 black football players announced they wouldn't participate in team activities until Wolfe was removed.

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10:55 a.m.

A University of Missouri graduate student says he will end his hunger strike now that the university system's president has resigned.

Jonathan Butler, who started his hunger strike Nov. 2, told CNN that he welcomes President Tim Wolfe's resignation announcement Monday but that the university still has a long way to go to make minority students feel welcome.

Butler says the university system's governing board needs to listen to more minority faculty and student voices so that situations like this don't happen again.

Black student groups have been complaining for months about racial slurs and other slights on the system's overwhelmingly white flagship campus in Columbia. Their efforts got a boost over the weekend when 30 black football players announced they wouldn't participate in team activities until Wolfe was removed.

This item has been changed to correct a reference to resigning University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe, who was erroneously referred to as Tim Wright on first reference.

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10:35 a.m.

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe says he hopes the school community uses his resignation as a way to "move forward together."

Wolfe said Monday at a special meeting of the system's governing board that he takes "full responsibility for the frustration" students had expressed regarding racial issues and that it "is clear" and "real."

Black student groups have been complaining for months about racial slurs and other slights on the system's overwhelmingly white flagship campus in Columbia. Their efforts got a boost over the weekend when 30 black football players announced they wouldn't participate in team activities until Wolfe was removed.

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10:20 a.m.

The president of the University of Missouri System says he is resigning amid student criticism of his handling of racial issues.

President Tim Wolfe said Monday that his resignation is effective immediately.

The announcement came at a special meeting of the university system's governing body, the Board of Curators.

Black student groups have been complaining for months about racial slurs and other slights on the system's overwhelmingly white flagship campus in Columbia. Their efforts got a boost over the weekend when 30 black football players announced they wouldn't participate in team activities until Wolfe was removed.

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9:15 a.m.

The student government at the University of Missouri's flagship campus has added its voice to those calling for the school president to resign immediately.

The Missouri Students Association, which represents the 27,000 undergraduates at the system's Columbia campus, called for President Tim Wolfe to step down in a letter sent to the Missouri System Board of Curators on Sunday night.

The students say there has been an increase in "tension and inequality with no systemic support" since last year's fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer in Ferguson.

The group Concerned Student 1950 and black members of the football team want Wolfe to step down over his handling of race and discrimination at the flagship school of the four-campus system.

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8:25 a.m.

Some University of Missouri undergraduate students are attending class despite two student groups calling for walkouts in solidarity with protesters who want the system president to resign.

Brendan W. Merz, a senior undergraduate heading to an economics class Monday, says the protests haven't affected him at all. Merz says the protests are "a little excessive."

The Steering Committee of the Forum on Graduate Rights and the Coalition of Graduate Workers called Sunday for walkouts of student workers out of support for protesters seeking the removal of President Tim Wolfe.

The group Concerned Student 1950 and black members of the football team are calling for Wolfe to step down over his handling of race and discrimination at the flagship school of the four-campus system.

This story has been changed to reflect that the student who said the protests haven't affected him is Brendan W. Merz. There is another student at the school named Brendan A. Merz.

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1 a.m.

Members of the governing body of the University of Missouri system are set for a special meeting amid ongoing protests over matters of race and discrimination at the system's flagship school.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators is to meet Monday at 10 a.m. on the system's Columbia campus.

According to an agenda provided in a statement announcing the meeting, part of the meeting will be closed to the public.

The statement says Missouri law allows the group to meet in a private "executive session" to discuss topics including privileged communications with university counsel or personnel matters.

A university spokesman didn't immediately respond to questions about whether the group would address the status of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe. Wolfe has been the target of protests by students, including 32 black football players who announced they will not participate in team activities until he is removed. One black graduate student is on a hunger strike.

Wolfe has given no indication he intends to step down.