Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times has a featured article today reporting that as a result of a “backlash” of racist events in 2015, the University of Missouri is being shunned by both black and white students. Enrollments along with revenue are plummeting resulting in cuts of more 400 positions. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“In the fall of 2015, a grassy quadrangle at the center of the University of Missouri became known nationwide as the command center of an escalating protest.
Students complaining of official inaction in the face of racial bigotry joined forces with a graduate student on a hunger strike. Within weeks, with the aid of the football team, they had forced the university system president and the campus chancellor to resign.
It was a moment of triumph for the protesting students. But it has been a disaster for the university.
Freshman enrollment at the Columbia campus, the system’s flagship, has fallen by more than 35 percent in the two years since.
The university administration acknowledges that the main reason is a backlash from the events of 2015, as the campus has been shunned by students and families put off by, depending on their viewpoint, a culture of racism or one where protesters run amok.
Before the protests, the university, fondly known as Mizzou, was experiencing steady growth and building new dormitories. Now, with budget cuts due to lost tuition and a decline in state funding, the university is temporarily closing seven dormitories and cutting more than 400 positions, including those of some non-tenured faculty members, through layoffs and by leaving open jobs unfilled.
Few areas have been spared: The library is even begging for books.
“The general consensus was that it was because of the aftermath of what happened in November 2015,” said Mun Choi, the new system president, referring to the climax of the demonstrations.
“There were students from both in state and out of state that just did not apply, or those who did apply but decided not to attend.”
The protests inspired movements at other colleges. Since then fights over overt and subconscious racial slights, as well as battles over free speech, have broken out at Middlebury College in Vermont, the University of California, Berkeley, and The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. Missouri’s experience shows how a conflict, if not deftly handled, can stain a college’s reputation long after the conflict has died down.
Students of all races have shunned Missouri, but the drop in freshman enrollment last fall was strikingly higher among blacks, at 42 percent, than among whites, at 21 percent.”
A sad situation that will take years to rectify.