See also: Race Relations at the UofA
COLUMBIA, Missouri – Despite attention on race relations at the University of Missouri, students and officials said these problems manifested from the culture of racism that expands past their campus.
Although the Jeanne CLERY Disclosure of Campus Security Policy Campus Crime Statistics Report and Annual Fire Safety Report reported five hate crimes on campus since 2012, students said they have been insulted much more often.
A hate crime is any crime committed in which the victim is selected based on the perpetrator’s bias, whether that be perceived race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or disability, according to the Clery Report.
“This just tears at me,” said Kevin Carr, Missouri Student Association chair of Senate. “I mean, nobody wants to feel as if they can’t even go to school because the environment in which they learn in is hostile.”
Hostile is no understatement. The Black Culture Center on Mizzou’s campus was vandalized Nov. 12. The vandals spraypainted over the word, ‘Black,’ with black spray paint. Just two days before, threats emerged on the anonymous social media site Yik Yak, resulting in one arrest of Mizzou Science and Technology student Hunter M. Park. One of the Yik Yak posts read, “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”
Carr said he helped evacuate students from Carnahan Quad, the open space where protesters were camped out, after threats were made.
“I had the first-hand experience to see what they were going through in that moment,” he said. “There were some students crying. I think everyone there, including myself, was worried about what might happen.”
Senior Phelan Simpkins works at the Black Culture Center as a student programmer. The center is a place where students of any color can go to study, relax or spend time with friends.
In recent years before Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 began protesting, multiple black student organizations on campus had tried to educate students on race-related issues, Simpkins said.
“It still feels like you’re separated to some extent and, in some instances, you’re not really taken seriously,” he said.
When students are set back because they feel they are not being taken seriously, it makes it harder for them to do their work, Simpkins said. Some students seem to think that black student organizations are not necessary, he said.
Mizzou has 35,448 students. In fall 2014, 7 percent of its students were black, according to Mizzou’s website.
“It is hard to teach someone about the relevance about what you’re doing if they don’t come out and learn about you, and I think that’s where a lot of the tension and problems really rise because you can’t educate somebody who’s not willing to be educated,” Simpkins said.
Simpkins noted that racial tensions are not specific to Mizzou but that the protests at Mizzou are giving people a voice and opening the door for other college campuses to speak out against racism.
Racism is not only happening when people vandalize buildings or call people racial slurs. Sometimes, it is more subtle than that.
“To say that it doesn’t happen is a gross understatement and a gross misrepresentation of students’ safety and students’ dignity,” Carr said.
Simpkins would not describe racism at Mizzou as pervasive, but he would call it prevalent, he said.
“You have your microaggressions of racism but those are not necessarily things that everyone picks up on … I think it’s the culture,” he said.
Simpkins likes the list of actions that Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 has demanded, he said. The word ‘demand’ has more presence because it automatically assumes more power than ‘request.’ One of the demands was the removal of Tim Wolfe as University of Missouri system president, who resigned Nov. 9.
“It’s time to go for an administration who is willing to learn and listen,” Simpkins said.
Carr said this problem is not isolated to Mizzou.
“This problem is not specific to MU; this problem is not specific to Missouri,” he said. “I think that there is not a town in the United States that is not dealing with this problem.”
Missouri Student Association Chair of Senate Kevin Carr
“We are at this weird place where a lot has happened and we have to figure out a way work with administrators and also students to bring together the student voice to show that we are going to reclaim our conversations and our campus from people who want to spread fear and hate.”
Concern over black student safety on campus
“We need to come together as a community to protect students”
“I can say from my own personal experiences that I have seen students called that. I have had conversations with other white students who have seen students pull up to a person of color and then call them the n-word in broad daylight.”
“To say that it doesn’t happen is a gross understatement and a gross misrepresentation of students’ safety and students’ dignity.”
Students are afraid to speak up for fear that they themselves will be retaliated against.
Student Government Efforts to Help
Jewish student organization and Muslim student organization to create better food accessibility on campus- remodel in 2016
Religious observance policy-students can make up a test or turn in date if it falls on a major holiday in their religion.
“I chose MU. I chose to go here. We all chose to go here. When I graduate, I want to be proud of the university that I came from. I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t understand students.”
See also: Race Relations at the UofA