Concerned Student 1950 organizers and supporters trek across campus in walkout

The walkout drew criticism on the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak.
Students protest on Lowry Mall during a walkout to support graduate student Jonathan Butler’s hunger strike Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.

“Who shut shit down? We shut shit down,” was one of the many chants over a hundred students, faculty and staff shouted during Thursday’s Concerned Student 1950 walkout in support of graduate student Jonathan Butler’s hunger strike calling for the removal of UM System President Tim Wolfe.

The walkout started at 11:30 a.m. outside the Student Center. The group made their way through the Mizzou Store and passed through Memorial Union, Lowry Mall, Speakers Circle, Jesse Hall and Reynolds Alumni Center, concluding by the tents on Carnahan Quad where Butler’s supporters are camping out for the hunger strike

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin made an appearance at the start of the walkout as demonstrators made their way out of classes. He recently responded to the hunger strike on campus in a statement.

Before the students began marching, Concerned Student 1950 leaders informed participants to refrain from speaking to media and demonstrated what to do if the safe word was said. Organizers said students should lock arms in a line of at least six people. If attempts to remove students were made, then students should cross their legs and sit down.

“Raise your hand high if you do not know why we’re in this space right now,” one of the Concerned Student 1950 organizers said while the walkout occupied Bengal Lair in Memorial Union.

A few surprised students who had been working at tables in Bengal Lair raised their hands as walkout organizers explained why they were there. Since Missouri Student Association president Payton Head’s Facebook post sharing his own personal experiences with racism went viral in September, students, faculty and staff have shown a strong response with multiple “Racism Lives Here” rallies, and demonstrations from Concerned Student 1950, which can be viewed on The Maneater’s interactive timeline.

“Do you know why we want to get Tim Wolfe out of here?” a Concerned Student 1950 walkout organizer asked. “Because marginalized students belong on this campus. Because marginalized students should not be marginalized.”

Her statements were met with cheers and claps as supporters chanted, “Tim Wolfe means we’ve got to fight back.”

“This is absolutely beautiful,” one organizer said after leaving Memorial Union. “Continue to stand in your power.”

When the walkout reached Speakers Circle, graduate student and organizer Reuben Faloughi said that people could get involved by learning what is happening around them and asking uncomfortable questions.

The walkout maintained intensity as it went on, with demonstrators eventually entering Jesse Hall. Organizers stood on top of the information desk chanting as demonstrators filed in. Eventually demonstrators moved upstairs and circled the balcony on the second floor where the chanted and listened to organizers speak through a megaphone.

Afterward, walkout demonstrators attracted attention from passersby as they entered the Reynolds Alumni Center and chanted in front of offices and meeting rooms and a window on the lower floor where meetings were taking place.

Yik Yaks posted anonymously from people around campus wrote things such as, “Why don’t black people like blow jobs? Black people don’t like any jobs,” and “Warning to visitors of Mizzou: Do not feed the protestors. If you do they’ll keep coming back for more and leave their natural habitat.” Head posted screenshots of the Yik Yaks on his Twitter during the walkout.

The official MU account and Loftin responded on Twitter expressing regret at seeing hate speech on campus and stating such speech has no place on campus.

When the walkout reached Carnahan Quad near the tents occupied by Butler’s supporters, organizers called demonstrators into a tight circle where they wrapped their arms around each other and recited an Assata Shakur poem.

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom,” a student leader chanted. “It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Senior Syed Ejaz, a Missouri Students Association presidential candidate, attended the walkout and communicated his views to The Maneater. His statements reflect his own views, not necessarily those of Concerned Student 1950.

“I think this walkout proved that this movement is very serious,” Ejaz said. “It’s not something that’s going to lose steam, it’s not something that the administration can sweep under the rug. It’s something that’s very substantive and has been bubbling for a very long time.”

Ejaz was not the only MSA presidential hopeful at the walkout. Junior Jordan McFarland and his vice presidential candidate Jonathan Segers were also at the event.

Concerned Student 1950 provided a one-page press release after the walkout.

The statement called for the resignation of the Wolfe. In part, it read, “Experiencing unmitigated and constant subordination at MU and being ignored by those in the highest positions of authority calls for immediate change or death fighting for it.”

Demonstrators embraced each other and shed tears at the end of the walkout. Concerned Student 1950 said during the next walkout, they plan to fill all three floors of Jesse Hall.

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