From Mizzou to Miami

MU students demonstrate in solidarity

By James Steinbauer, Opinion Editor

The distinctive turquoise tips of Senior Magda Orlander’s hair stood out amid the crowd of black-clad students, faculty and administration filling the rotunda of Armstrong as she shouted, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom!”

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom!” the crowd echoed back. Their voices resonated off the rotunda’s glass atrium, filling the student center with their chant.

Flocking to the banner of the newly formed Concerned Students Union of Miami University, hundreds of Miami community members filled the rotunda yesterday afternoon to show solidarity with the students protesting racism at the University of Missouri.

The Concerned Students Union of Miami will also formulate and publish a list of demands that will reflect the concerns of the Miami community.

“We want to reiterate to the university that we are in charge of our own agenda,”  said Chelsea Appiah, a junior and one of the group’s founders, at the demonstration. “You cannot pressure us into molding our plans for action to fit your interest and timeliness.”

Although he could not attend the demonstration, Miami President David Hodge said he hopes to meet with group leaders in the future to discuss issues with race on campus and how the university’s administration can best combat them.

“We welcome ideas on how we can advance what this university does,” Hodge said. “There are clear issues here, but you can go to any university in the country and see that these issues are live and they are serious all over our nation.”

The demonstration in Armstrong came at the end of an alarming timeline of events on Missouri’s campus that began Oct. 5, when the university’s Legion of Black Collegians was verbally abused with racial slurs during a homecoming event rehearsal.

Days later, when activists tried to confront University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe at a homecoming parade, he avoided them, leading to allegations that he was trivializing the groups concerns.

Later that month, on Oct. 24, the group Concerned Student 1950 — in reference to the year the first black student enrolled to the University of Missouri — was formed after a swastika was found on a wall written in feces.

On Nov. 2, Jonathan Butler, a graduate student at the University of Missouri began a hunger strike, saying that he would not eat until Wolfe resigned as president. The same day, the University of Missouri football team began a boycott of their practices and refused to play their upcoming home game against Brigham Young University — a ploy that would have cot the university $1 million.

Pressure from alumni and rumors that the Missouri’s Board of Curators were planning to oust him led Wolfe to resign as president of the university on Nov. 9.

Although Concerned Student 1950 reached their ultimate goal, the fight for racial equality on Missouri’s campus has a long road ahead. On Nov. 10, black students at the University of Missouri began receiving death threats on social media. One particularly heinous Yik Yak post said, “I am going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”

Concerned Students of Miami are hoping that their demands, if taken seriously by the administration, can be a first step toward gaining campus-wide support.

“We want to be very clear about where it is that we see the problems here,” Orlander said. “Too much of the administration’s response goes into very vague, vacant iterations of ‘everyone is Miami. We want to be more intentional.”

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