A few hundred students, dressed mostly in black, stood by the Van Wickle Gates at noon today to take a photo to show solidarity and support for Black students at the University of Missouri. Attendees remained huddled, some under umbrellas, to listen as several Black students, one by one, took to a megaphone to share their stories. They spoke about the institutional racism they had personally experienced, about the University’s refusal to value their existence and acknowledge their identities, and called for institutional changes to prevent future traumas and actualize equality on campus.
Many students spoke about their own experiences with racism in the classroom. A first-year spoke about being in an MCM class in which the professor, after quoting a text, repeatedly used the n-word to refer to Black bodies. “It happened five times before I had to walk out,” he said. After tweeting about the incident, the student has met several times with school administrators, and said his professor sent out an email acknowledging her use of language. “But it wasn’t an apology. It was an excuse.”
Another student expressed frustration with having to continually meet with administrators about the perpetuation of institutional racism by faculty members. “I’m here because I’m tired,” they said. “I haven’t done schoolwork in months, but I’m meeting with administrators.” Others elaborated on the discomfort that many Black students feel in classrooms with professors that have made racially charged comments or have criticized the work of activists on campus. “Ken Miller, David Josephson, Ariella Azoulay, Glenn Loury — these people aren’t being punished, but we are.”
In reference to the email sent by President Christina Paxson P’19 and Richard Locke, one student asked, “Why did they all of the sudden send out that e-mail after Mizzou and Yale?” The letter, titled “Promoting a Diverse, Inclusive Academic Community,” was sent this Tuesday to the community. “Are they scared [of losing their jobs]?” the student continued. “They should be. I’m very tired of institutional racism. If it doesn’t stop, if free speech isn’t removed from this discussion, she should be afraid.” Another student added, “I just want to say that our humanity is not up for debate.” One speaker pointed out that it took a year for the University to put a “Do not touch” sign in front of the only slavery memorial on campus, although “white children played on it the day after it was put up.”