COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Racially charged incidents at the University of Missouri have led to numerous protests, a hunger strike by a graduate student and at least 30 black football players announcing they are on strike — with all of them calling for the president of the four-campus system to be removed. Here's a look at the situation:
University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Monday that they are resigning after months of student anger over the university's handling of racial issues. A black student's hunger strike and the weekend announcement by 30 black football players that they wouldn't be participating in team activities until the Wolfe was removed helped bring the issue to a head.
At a special meeting of the system's governing board, Wolfe said he takes "full responsibility for the frustration" students had expressed regarding racial issues and that he hopes the school community uses his resignation "to heal and start talking again to make the changes necessary."
Wolfe's resignation is effective immediately.
After Wolfe's announcement, Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student who went on a hunger strike on Nov. 2 and vowed to not eat until Wolfe was gone, tweeted that his strike was over.
Loftin said he's stepping down at the end of the year and will shift to leading research efforts.
The treatment of minorities has been the focus at the state system's flagship campus in Columbia, and campus groups, including one called Concerned Student 1950, that have been protesting the way Wolfe has handled matters of race and discrimination. The 35,000-student population is overwhelmingly white.
The football players issued a statement aligning themselves with campus groups, and on Sunday, coach Gary Pinkel expressed solidarity on Twitter by posting a picture of the team and coaches locking arms. His tweet read: "The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players."
Wolfe responded to the criticism Sunday, saying that it "is clear to all of us that change is needed" and adding that his administration has been "meeting around the clock" to address the issue. The statement, however, made no mention of Wolfe resigning.
The protests began early in the semester after Missouri's student government president, who is black, said he was called a racial slur by the occupant of a passing pickup truck while walking on campus. Days before the Oct. 10 homecoming parade, members of the Legions of Black Collegians said racial slurs were directed at them by an unidentified person walking by. And a swastika drawn in feces was found recently in a dormitory bathroom.
THE MAJOR PLAYERS
Wolfe, a former software company executive and 1980 Missouri graduate, began leading the four-campus system in February 2012.
Loftin, former president of Texas A&M University, started as chancellor at the Columbia campus in February 2014.
Concerned Student 1950 draws its name from the year the university accepted its first black student, and has demanded, among other things, that Wolfe "acknowledge his white male privilege" and be removed immediately, and that the school adopt a mandatory racial-awareness program and hire more black faculty and staff members.
The University of Missouri system's governing body plans to begin several initiatives in the next 90 days aimed at improving the racial atmosphere on the system's four campuses.
The Board of Curators will appoint the system's first chief of diversity, inclusion and equity officer. Each campus also will have its own such officer.
The board also promised a full review of all policies related to staff and student conduct, more support for those on campus who have experienced discrimination and the hiring of a more diverse faculty and staff.
Changes planned specifically on the Columbia campus include mandatory diversity, inclusion and equity training for all faculty, staff and future students, as well as a review of student mental health services.