Several University of Missouri organizations, including the football team and the student association, saw their demand met Monday when university system President Tim Wolfe announced he was stepping down amid a controversy over race relations at the school’s main campus.
Saying he takes “full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred,” he asked that the university community listen to each other’s problems and “stop intimidating each other.”
“This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation,” he said. “Use my resignation to heal and start talking again.”
His decision, he said, “came out of love, not hate,” and he urged the university to “focus on what we can change” in the future, not what’s happened in the past.
Students, faculty and staff converged on the Carnahan Quad following the announcement. There, they linked arms and swayed side to side, singing, “We Shall Overcome.”
Wolfe’s resignation came after football players, both black and white, threatened — with their coach’s support — not to practice or play again until graduate student Jonathan Butler ended his hunger strike.
Butler said he stopped eating last week and demanded the removal of Wolfe, who until Monday presided over the university system, which includes the main University of Missouri campus, along with the University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology.
He tweeted after Wolfe’s news conference that he had ended his hunger strike and said, “More change is to come!! #TheStruggleContinues.”
He told CNN his reaction to Wolfe’s resignation was “just wow,” and he was crying because the moment meant so much to him. His fight was not solely against racism, but against sexism and homophobia as well. He fought, he said, because so many others fought for equality before him.
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