The tension at the University of Missouri has been at an all-time high recently.
System President Tim Wolfe tendered his resignation with help from the push of many students who believed that Wolfe failed to address the very eminent race issue that is rampant on the Mizzou campus. These incidents, paired with the blatant diversity issues among the faculty, caused an uproar from both students and staff.
On Sept. 12, the student body President Payton Head was called racial slurs from a car window whilst walking on campus. According to the Columbia Missourian, Head said it was the first time he experienced what he called “in your face” racism. On the night of Oct. 5, a historic black student group at Mizzou, called the Legion of Black Collegians, was rehearsing for a homecoming parade, and was interrupted by an obviously intoxicated white male, who proceeded to use racial slurs. He exclaimed an offensive phrase when the group told him to exit the area they were practicing in. On Oct. 24, it was reported to the police that a swastika had been crafted out of human excrement in a dorm bathroom on campus.
So, with all of these events taking place truly within a little over a month, it is obvious that race is an issue that must be dealt with, especially within a university environment. However, with many critics surfacing with the claim that many of these students and activists are driven by lies and are being oversensitive to a problem that “doesn’t exist,”it seems as though people are trying to turn a blind eye to the existing racial tension, more often than not, on college campuses.
Social media also plays a large part in racially-charged incidents on college campuses, but, if used correctly, can also aid in helping end them.
Living in the digital age, young people are more often than not on their phones using some form of social media. Yik Yak is a very popular app among college students because it allows people to post anonymously to the people in their area or at their college.
In the midst of all of the racial tension at Mizzou, several “Yaks” were posted by Head to display the racist inclinations some of the student body possess. They consisted of death threats from multiple students who were suggesting they would be waiting in the parking lots to “shoot every black person they see.” The two white males responsible for these tweets were arrested, but not before they allegedly harassed several black students on campus who took to Twitter to tell their stories.
However, some students used social media to change the conversation on race at the school. An activist group from Mizzou called Concerned Student 1950 became the reason for several anti-hate hashtags on Twitter many students used and appreciated.
This group was formed to fight back against the racial hostility that seems to be so evident on Mizzou’s campus. The hashtags #WeStandWithMizzou and #ConcernedStudent1950 spread like wildfire on Twitter, where both black and white students expressed their appreciation for the group and wanted to show their frustration towards the racial bias that has been oh-so evident on Mizzou’s campus. Students from universities across the country showed their support for the group and the several protests going on at the school by claiming on several different social media outlets that they stand with Mizzou and their campaign against racial injustice on college campuses.
When times are hard, students should be able to find comfort in each other, and with the racial bias that comes with a lot of college campuses, many students are stripped of that opportunity. The unity between students that should come with college has been lost behind all of the racially-charged incidents on campuses across the United States. These incidents, which continue to grow more and more common, really send us back in time. This feeling of “one step forward, two steps back” needs to be in the past because moving forward is truly the only option for a progressive society like this one.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said so well, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word”.