Letter to the Editor: Maneater endorsement prioritizes the wrong issues

MSA’s most pressing issue is the issue of diversity on campus.

It is only fitting that the announcement of The Maneater’s endorsement fell on the same day that #ConcernedStudent1950 announced that it is #StillConcerned. In the aftermath of one of the greatest social justice movements that this campus has ever experienced, it is shameful that our student media is still unable to grapple with the plight of their marginalized peers. I am honestly struck by the privilege in the statement that “the problems that MSA currently face go beyond inclusivity and accessibility.” The lack of inclusivity and accessibility for students on this campus is the largest problem for our disenfranchised students. The same problem that this campus faces is the same problem this community faces, which is the inability to comprehend systemic inequality or listen to the voices that are routinely silenced.

The rallying cry rings forth: Grad workers demand for recognition, black students demand acceptance, black faculty retention rates are abysmal, people of color employed as mental health professionals are nonexistent, and Academic Retention Services continues to suffer more budget cuts. Meanwhile, MSA continues their separation from the common student body as it continues its slow and steady march towards the status quo and continues its support of administration attempting to raise fees on undergraduates. Racism lives on this campus and within this community and so do we — it is the job of our representatives to change this.

I am not writing this because my name was not listed at the top of the editorial. I am writing this because even after students camped in the pouring rain, your staff has still refused to hear the storm. Even after cotton balls on the Black Culture Center, swastikas in the bathroom, pick-up trucks with Confederate flags, and death threats posted anonymously by our peers who threaten to “stand their ground and shoot every black person they see,” The Maneater still claims that MSA “has more problems than its handling of social justice issues.” There is no other problem that MSA needs to face more pressing than the issue of diversity on this campus and our culture’s and community’s inability to grapple with the issues that terrorize our campus and make our students and peers unsafe.

When MSA reaches out beyond the confines of its Senate, executive office and auxiliaries is when real change and progress can begin and we can sit in our offices and claim that “the problems that MSA currently face go beyond inclusivity and accessibility” The lack of understanding between The Maneater and social justice is of course nothing new — it’s the lack of connection between the reporter, the oppressed and the activist that led to the editorial that shamed MU4MikeBrown protesters for having the courage to speak out for their humanity. It was your staff’s willful ignorance of social progress that led to Ashley Bland’s letter-to-the-editor in November 2014. She was one of the few voices that spoke out against an editorial by your staff that called out protesters on their methods and even addressed them as “belligerent.” Ashley asked an essential question that I believe still hangs in the Columbia air:

“Do we make you uncomfortable?”

It is with great disappointment that I watch The Maneater and #ConcernedStudent1950 discuss social justice on the same day and emerge with massively different results. Activists on this campus engaged and continued to engage in massive demonstrations to raise social consciousness on this campus. Despite their labor, I write with great regret and disappointment to a newspaper that still does not recognize the immense necessity and importance of social justice advocacy on this campus.

In 2014, the former editorial board grossly spoke down to the activists for their choice of methods in protest. They spoke of nonviolence and dignified protest and used Dr. Martin Luther King’s words and ideals in their shaming of student activists. I will use King’s words as well. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, King wrote that the white moderate was the greatest threat to freedom, who says “I agree with the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action …”

Our student government has yet to function as an advocacy organization during my time at MU, and rarely do I see our media effectively understand the plight of the marginalized. It is unfortunate that this is echoed by my hometown’s student and professional media. I could only wish that I were surprised. For those burned, for those still aflame and for the countless unnamed, I can only hope that the lack of acknowledgement and respect for the work activists do on campus will one day be recognized as the single most important issue that faces our campus. I pray that one day, white MU will realize why students of color and allies are #StillConcerned.

Andrew Hutchinson, MSA Presidential Candidate, aeh8wf@mail.missouri.edu

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