At the University of Missouri, real change happened — but only when loss of university revenue was threatened.
Missouri student activist groups brought to light racial tensions at the institution. However, events apexed when the Mizzou football team threatened to boycott all football related activities until the chancellor of the state’s flagship university resigned or was terminated by the university Board of Curators.
On Monday, Nov. 9, the resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor of the Columbia campus R. Bowen Loftin prompted a rare occurrence in civil rights conflicts: the protestors won. But whether the university submitted to student demands because they valued their concerns or because they hit them where it hurt: their pocketbook is still at large.
If the Tigers were forced to forfeit one game alone it would have cost the university over $1 million in revenue. In fact, the forfeited football game would have cost more than the former Chancellor Loftin’s annual salary — over $450,000.
The majority of student protests fell on deaf ears — Mizzou Graduate student Jonathan Butler led student demonstrations, even subjecting his body to a hunger strike, while several other student activist groups followed suit by organizing sit-ins, rallies, and the interruption of the annual homecoming parade.
Yet, Loftin and Wolfe acknowledged none of these outcries until the Mizzou football team became involved in the protests.
To give one aspect of the student body so much influence and power is disconcerting; this time, in this particular instance, the group with coercing power brought about positive change — but this may not always be the case.
One faction shouldn’t matter more than another; student voices should matter equally, regardless of how much revenue they generate for the university.