[guest post by JVW]
On Saturday’s college football thread we have been discussing the interesting situation at the University of Missouri involving student protesters, the football team, and upper-administration. For a brief recap, after a series of alleged racial incidents on campus, an activist group called Concerned Students 1950 (named for the year that Mizzou first admitted black undergraduate students) demanded the resignation of the university president along with other measures to combat what they see as an intolerable racial climate. Earlier today, that president, Tim Wolfe, and the university chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin [corrected spelling: thanks Diffus], both resigned from their positions.
The football team had become involved when players with ties to Concerned Students 1950 convinced somewhere between 30 and 35 players to boycott the rest of the season, effective immediately. They were ultimately joined in the boycott by the coaching staff, which probably signaled to the administration that the battle was lost. The involvement of the team, a mostly-successful program in the most competitive college football conference in the nation, almost certainly brought increased media coverage and aided the protesters immeasurably, though cynics point out that the Tigers (current record of four wins and five losses) probably wouldn’t be considering a boycott if there were 9-0 or even 8-1.
This afternoon, Concerned Students 1950 and its allies gathered on a campus lawn to demonstrate, which they immediately declared to be a “safe space” where media were not welcome, despite the fact that they were gathering on public property. In a rather remarkable (and not in a good way) video, students and faculty members, including Assistant Professor of Mass Media Melissa Click, attempt to bully student reporters from covering the gathering:
Twitchy has a round-up of reactions to the irony of a school with a prestigious journalism department blocking student journalists from exercising their First Amendment rights. In a positive development, a Mizzou journalism professor, Katherine Reed, has publicly shamed her colleague, though it’s hard to imagine a feckless administration treating this with anything other than the mildest of rebukes.
Meanwhile, Concerned Students 1950 issued the usual puerile list of demands, including mandatory diversity training for student and staff designed and implemented by their organization, a doubling of black faculty members, and the usual laundry list of impractical demands from grievance groups. The new interim chancellor has already pledged to hire a chief diversity officer for the university (you’re paying for it, Missouri taxpayers!), so no doubt further caving by cowed academic bureaucrats is in the tea leaves.
It’s easy to criticize and blame the students for their adolescent whining and grievance-mongering, but like college students throughout history they are content to get away with exactly what they are allowed to get away with. The interesting question will be whether the governor and legislature are willing to step in and restore a sense of sanity, but given today’s press release from Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, it is pretty unlikely. One is left to wonder if some aspiring Missouri politician might take a page from the Ronald Reagan playbook and campaign against “that mess in Columbia.” If so, I would imagine there could be a very receptive audience in the Show-Me State.