University of Missouri football players are going on strike in protest of school president Tim Wolfe.
According to a statement released through Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians organization, “the athletes of color” on the Missouri team “will no longer participate in football-related activities,” until Wolfe steps down or is removed from his position. They cite Wolfe’s “negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences.” It remains unclear from the wording if all of the team’s African-American players are participating.
This decision comes in wake of a series of racially charged, discriminatory incidents on Missouri’s campus during the 2015-16 academic year. Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler has been on a hunger strike since Nov. 2 in opposition of Wolfe, who has served as president since 2012. Butler shared the players’ statement on Facebook Saturday night. A petition exists on Change.org also calling for Wolfe’s removal.
Wolfe met with Butler and released a statement Nov. 6 in response to an incident at the school’s homecoming parade Oct.10 in which protestors blocked the advancement of the car he was riding in for “about 15 minutes” until they were dispersed by police. A campus protest that was originally planned for the evening of Nov. 5, after Missouri’s home game against Mississippi State, has been moved to Monday night, according to the Columbia Missourian.
Missouri’s student body is 77% white and 7% black. Fifty-eight of the school’s 84 scholarship football players are African-American.
Cornerback John Gibson tweeted that the strike “has nothing to do with our coaches,” and that the coaching staff is “100%” behind the players’ decision, including the team’s white coaches.
Missouri’s students have used the hashtag “#ConcernedStudent1950” on social media platforms to debate the issue.
Missouri athletics issued a statement late Saturday:
“The Department of Athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.”
- Jeremy Woo