Loftin vows to continue racial discussions amid criticism

“I characterized this as a listening session. It was not my intent to respond or speak. I will continue listening and gathering input. We will craft responses as appropriate as we go forward,” he said in a statement.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin hosted a “Ferguson Listening Session" on Monday to hear from MU community members about the ongoing events in Ferguson, Missouri and concerns many students have about racial issues on campus.

Loftin and his administration were criticized by students at the forum for not responding sooner and were urged to “stop being reactive and start being proactive.”

Loftin did not speak during the forum, but provided the following statement via email Tuesday afternoon in response to the criticism:

“It was a powerful 2.5 hours. I shed tears for the students who spoke from their hearts.

I characterized this as a listening session. It was not my intent to respond or speak. I will continue listening and gathering input. We will craft responses as appropriate as we go forward.

As to importance, I am aware of many forums, panels, speeches and gatherings that occurred on campus after Ferguson. I followed as best I could those activities.

After the Monday night announcement, I spent hours on social media "listening" to what our students were saying. I felt that it was important to provide an initial forum on the first day students were back to give them an opportunity to gather and to tell me and others on campus what their feelings were. As you observed, we did not talk about Ferguson or the grand jury decision very much. It was much more about them, the campus climate and ideas about how we can get better. That was my hope for this meeting and other events that will occur over the next few weeks.

My goal is to communicate with the entire campus before the semester ends and have time over the semester break to work with a number of leaders to create action plans.”

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