UM System reacts to Wolfe’s resignation

MU is just one of the four schools in the UM system that lost its system president Nov. 9.

UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned at 10 a.m. on Nov. 9 in response to pressure from students and faculty at MU. However, the UM System president role is equally important to all four campuses in the system.

The other three UM System campuses, UM-St. Louis, UM-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology, released statements on Oct. 9 condemning racism on college campuses and holding forums for open discussion. All three responded directly to Wolfe’s resignation and urged their campus to consider the administrative change an opportunity for positive growth.

The UM System president job is described as “overall leadership, vision and direction for the University of Missouri System … composed of four diverse campuses,” in the Overview of UM System Organization published in 2014.

Each university has its own chancellor. All four report to the UM System president, who is considered the chief executive and academic officer for the entire university system, according to the overview.

UM-Kansas City

UMKC said in a news release that education is the best way to combat systemic injustice. The release, which is signed by administrators, made a commitment this academic year to “do our part to engage our community in reaffirming our commitment to civility, professionalism, and appreciation of diversity in all its forms.”

The release, issued on Nov. 9, urged faculty to use that day’s class time for discussions on diversity. Steven Pankey, the Senior Educational Team Coordinator at UMKC, said he hopes classroom discussions will continue through the week. He said UMKC is hosting listening sessions, beginning Nov. 10, led by the chancellor and provost to listen to students, faculty and staff. He said administrators are waiting to see what students need before proceeding with concrete plans. “I think if we move too quickly, if we react as opposed respond, then I think we take the chance of misinterpreting or misreading the situation and I think that we would lose the momentum that we have,” Pankey said. UMKC Student Body President Ida Ayalew declined to comment. ####Missouri S&T In a statement to media, Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl Schrader said after Wolfe’s resignation that she “would like to express and reaffirm my support of our African-American students and employees … we must do everything within our power to make campus a safe and welcoming environment to learn, work and flourish.” Adam McMikle, student body president at Missouri S&T, said he thinks there is less racial tension on campus because the student body is smaller than MU’s 35,050 students and has a strong bystander-intervention culture. He also said campus activism can sometimes take a backseat to academics. “Some of our students on our campus, they’re saying we really wouldn’t have as much time to rally about community concerns because we spend so much time worrying about our classes,” McMikle said. McMikle said Schrader addressed the student body government officer team at their weekly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10 to discuss Wolfe’s resignation. “The UM System overall seems so heavily reliant on the Columbia campus and there are three other campuses that are valuable in their own aspects,” McMikle said. “We simply would like to be taken into consideration as well when dealing with any system-wide issue.” On Nov. 11, MUPD took Hunter Park, a sophomore at Missouri S&T, in custody for making threats on social media. ####UM-St. Louis UMSL Student Body President Cameron Roark said the first thing he did on the morning of Monday, Nov. 9 was meet with UMSL Chancellor Tom George and his team to see what administration and student body government could do to be proactive. The UMSL student body government will be meeting with a list of minority student groups on campus including Associated Black Collegians, Multi-Greek Council and PRISM to see if they are experiencing discrimination on campus. If they are, Roark said student government will work to address problems with policy. “It’s not just a white or black issue, it’s everybody here on campus,” Roark said. “We want to make sure they feel safe and have everything they need to be a productive student here.” A statement from George listed actions administrators already taken to combat racism and outlined concrete steps for the future. Forums are planned for campus-wide discussions. George asked members of the Chancellor’s Cultural Diversity Council to organize a forum for UMSL community members to share ideas. George wrote in the release that he has been contacted by people on and off campus to discuss the issue and, with time, will respond to each request. The press release also said the UMSL student government is meeting with students to learn more about their individual experiences with oppression on campus. “I think it best at this point to accept President Wolfe’s resignation as an opportunity to talk more - and louder - about longstanding issues,” George said in the news release. Roark said he thinks the entire UM System will have to react to the events on MU’s campus. “I think this has grabbed the attention of the system,” he said. “I definitely think we will see policy changes and things that are going to come out of that.”

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