The man hired as the Vice Chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity at the University of Missouri had some stern words for the activist group Concerned Student 1950, after they made another round of demands on the school and its administrators. In a letter to the activists he shuts them down by proclaiming that the time for “demands, threats and arbitrary deadlines is over.”
You may recall that Concerned Student 1950 made a list of demands on October 20, 2015 that they told the University of Missouri they had to abide by.
Included in the demands were that University of Missouri President, Tim Wolfe, writes a handwritten apology to the Concerned Student 1950 demonstrators and holds a press conference where he “acknowledges his white male privilege, recognizes that systems of oppression exist, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1950 demands.”
Concerned Student 1950, which was named in honor of the school’s first black student, Gus Ridgel, who was admitted into the University of Missouri in 1950, also asked for the immediate removal of Wolfe as UM President. On November 9, Wolfe resigned due to the controversy over race. Hours later, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also stepped down.
They demanded that the university “creates a comprehensive racial
awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and administration.” Concerned Student 1950 also required that “percentage of black faculty and staff campuswide to 10%.”
Last week, Concerned Student 1950 released a brand new set of demands, which spotlighted previous demands that were not yet met, as well as some new requirements.
Included was a new and preposterous demand calling for something called an “academic bankruptcy program.”
There will be the set up of an academic bankruptcy program for the entire campus. This program will allow a student to drop an entire semester from his records for justifiable circumstances. These circumstances will determined per case by the council described in point #3 for Blacks and other non-white students.
First off why does said student only refer to a male student? It states “drop an entire semester from his records.” That seems extremely sexist and gender specific. Secondly, this is extremely exclusionary and seemingly racist since it only applies to “Blacks and other non-white students.” What if you’re half white? Can you have an entire semester erased from your academic record? Or can you only have half of the semester wiped out?
Lastly, what the fuck are “justifiable reasons?” Is running out of shows to binge watch on Netflix “justifiable reasons?” Is stubbing your pinky toe a “justifiable reasons?” This demand is just absurd and opens the door for students to completely fuck off for a semester, get bad grades and make up some excuse so that they can be pardoned with no academic punishment whatsoever.
If you show up late to work everyday, aren’t productive at your job, badmouth your coworkers, then the day your boss calls you into their office to fire you, you can’t say, “You have to forget all of those awful things I did during the last few months because I was dealing with a lot of stress because someone spoiled last season of Game of Thrones for me. I am instituting the ‘professional bankruptcy program’ and now you can’t use any of that negative behavior against me.” There is no “academic bankruptcy program” in the real world.
Concerned Student 1950 also dictated that $250,000 be spent to expand the Black Cultural Center that included a “Liberation House,” and a statue of 1930s civil rights activist Lloyd Gaines in the Carnahan Quadrangle. Many of these demands have precise deadlines, and the group emphasized that the school must fulfill them “by any means necessary.”
“Be clear, these demands are not to be seen as ‘requests,’ but obligatory to addressing and dismantling institutional racism on our campus,” read a statement that accompanied the list of demands. “We will remain committed to ensuring our demands are met by any means necessary.”
Chuck Henson was appointed as Mizzou’s interim Vice Chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity after the massive campus protests last fall. He acknowledged the group’s new demands by writing a letter last Thursday, and he showed that he will not be intimidated by threats and unreasonable demands.
“If you sincerely want better relationships, the time for demands, threats and arbitrary deadlines is over — you don’t need them,” Henson said in a letter that was released by the Columbia Missourian.
UM System Interim President Mike Middleton echoed Henson’s sentiment regarding the stipulations. “The time for demands has passed,” he told the Missourian, the school’s newspaper.
Henson, who received his BA from Yale University and his JD from Georgetown University, enlightened the activists on employment laws that prohibit their demands to be met.
“There are things, like hiring faculty or staff, or admitting students based on protected characteristics to meet a numerical target, [that] will not and cannot be done,” the vice chancellor said. “It is against state and federal law. It also is a bad model for a sustainable community.”
Henson condemned the activists for avoiding a face-to-face meeting with him, that could have prevented him from penning the scathing letter.
“For my part, I have been seeking you out. I have invited you to come see me,” Henson said. “However, as yet we haven’t met. Had you accepted my invitation to meet face-to-face, you would already know the answers to most of the issues raised in your recent communication.”
He suggested that activists attending meetings of The Working Group, a body that was created by the school’s administration following the protests last fall to transparently bring about change at MU.
The Working Group is a joint effort between the Vice Chancellor of the Division of Inclusion Diversity and Equity and student leaders campus wide. The purpose is to make sure that invested student leaders know what the administration has done and intends to do to address the broad request for a better relationship and a better community on and off campus.
The Working Group also is a direct line for student leaders’ ideas to become part of the transformation of Mizzou. Participation is an opportunity to build the most inclusive, diverse and equitable Mizzou that we can build. Weekly meetings open to the public offer personal and professional development opportunities to learn about the contexts affecting our transformation and will be open to the public.
Despite the uproar for inclusion into decision-making at the university, attendance at the meetings are said to be poor.
Concerned Student 1950 says the contrary to what the diversity director stated.