Governor names black Fed official to University of Missouri board

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2015 3:27 PM

By Ben Klayman

(Reuters) - Missouri's Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has named a black Federal Reserve Bank executive to the Board of Curators at the University of Missouri, as students across the country protested in the name of equal rights for minorities on college campuses.

On Friday Nixon said Yvonne Sparks, an assistant vice president for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, would join the board of the four-campus university system. She oversees community development at the St. Louis Fed.

The appointment is the latest action in the state as it seeks to ameliorate racial tension at its largest school.

University President Tim Wolfe resigned earlier this week in the face of mounting pressure from the school's football team and student body for failing to address reports of racist behavior on school grounds.

The decision on Monday was followed by the arrest of three 19-year-old Missouri men on charges that they made terrorist threats on social media about shooting people at college campuses in the state. Two of them talked about targeting black students.

On the main Columbia campus on Friday, demonstrators demanded a greater voice in school governance and better handling of racial issues. Although classes were in session, a few black students said they still felt nervous on campus after the threats.

SMEAR CAMPAIGN?

Missouri's Republican Lieutenant Gov. Peter Kinder said on Fox News on Friday that the state's reputation was being smeared and it was time for "good Missourians to stand up and push back."

"It’s time for somebody to lay some facts on the table and say, ‘We are not racist,’" said Kinder, who is running for governor. "Missourians are tired of this."

He criticized Nixon for figuratively bringing Ferguson, Missouri, to the campus. The Columbia campus is 115 miles (185 km) west of Ferguson, where a white policeman fatally shot an unarmed black teenager last year. The shooting triggered national debate about the treatment of blacks by police.

A spokeswoman for the governor could not be reached for comment on Kinder's remarks.

Students rallied on campuses elsewhere in the country on Friday, some in support of students at Missouri, others protesting issues at their own universities.

Hundreds of Yale University students with a list of demands marched to the home of university president Peter Salovey around midnight Thursday into Friday, carrying banners and chanting, university officials and student leaders said on Friday. The demands included improved mental-health services on campus for minority students and increased funding for minority groups on campus.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in nearby Durham, students urged administrators to take concrete actions to resolve racial issues, local media reported.

Some students chanted “Duke, you are guilty” at a university forum on race relations, at which President Richard Brodhead said the school was forming a working group focused on issues of bias and hate, the student newspaper The Chronicle tweeted.

In the Los Angeles area on Thursday, the dean of Claremont McKenna College resigned under pressure from students complaining about neglect of diversity issues.

Also on Thursday, online threats were made at historically black college Howard University in Washington, and an unidentified male student was arrested in Michigan for threatening black students at Michigan Technological University.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Additional reporting by Madi Alexander in Columbia, Missouri, Megan Cassella in Washington, Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Richard Weizel in New Haven, Connecticut; Editing by Toni Reinhold)