COLUMBIA — A small group of MU students standing at Traditions Plaza with their arms linked drew a very big audience Monday afternoon.
Dozens of cameras recorded the original 11 members of Concerned Student 1950, as more reporters edged closer to the brick stage. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff ringed the rows behind the media.
The Concerned Student 1950 group stood less than a mile from the corner where they blocked then-UM System President Tim Wolfe in his red convertible Oct. 10 during the Homecoming Parade. But they had journeyed much farther.
On Monday, Wolfe resigned, and Concerned Student 1950 controlled its message to the world.
Jonathan Butler, the MU graduate student who ended his weeklong hunger strike Monday, asked everyone in the crowd, white and black, to raise their right hands for a united cheer. But he vowed that the group wasn’t done.
“This is not a moment,” Butler said several times. “This is a movement.”
Concerned Student 1950 held a brief news conference Monday afternoon and stated demands moving forward after Wolfe’s resignation earlier that morning. The demands were:
- An immediate meeting with MU's Faculty Council, the UM System Board of Curators and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to discuss shared governance within the UM System.
- Development of a process involving students, staff and faculty of color to select the next UM System president.
“While today may seem bright to some, this is just a beginning ... dismantling systems of oppression in higher education, specifically the UM System,” said Marshall Allen, a member of Concerned Student 1950.
Various members of Concerned Student 1950 then responded to questions from the media. Earlier in the day, reporters and photographers from many news outlets were physically barred from reporting on events near Mel Carnahan Quadrangle.
Butler said he appreciated the prayers, thoughts and messages he received during his hunger strike. But he asked that people stop focusing on his hunger strike and instead focus on why Concerned Student 1950 had to fight the way it did.
Butler praised the unity of the MU community over the last few weeks. His voice grew angry, though, when he spoke about the forums, letters, tweets and other messages it took to get the group’s message across.
“It should not haven taken this much,” Butler said. “It is disgusting and vile.”
When asked what she’d like MU to look like in 10 years, one member of Concerned Student 1950, Storm Ervin, said she wanted to see a more inclusive campus and a greater percentage of black faculty. She also said she wanted to see more black psychologists working in campus mental health services.
The meeting ended with an “Ashé power!” chant — Yoruba for power — and more applause. Then, the crowd started screaming “M-I-Z” and “Z-O-U” as Concerned Student 1950 left the stage. During the Oct. 10 parade, the cheer was used to drown out the group when they stood in front of Wolfe's red convertible.
A member of the Concerned Student 1950 turned around, grabbed the microphone and asked the crowd to stop. It seemed the chant still hurt.
MSA: Add a voting student curator representative
Later Monday afternoon, the Missouri Student Association Executive Board said at a news conference that it is working to secure voting powers for the student representative on the UM System Board of Curators. In 2008, a bill that would have added a student vote was vetoed by then-Gov. Matt Blunt.
The student representative position on the Board of Curators rotates between campuses every two years. Starting in January, it’s MU’s turn for a spot.
Kate Hargis, president of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, said that while her group has been given the spot, the student representative does not have a vote on the board.
MSA President Payton Head also weighed in on the issue. Head spoke out in a Facebook post in September about a racist incident directed at him which sparked outrage in the MU community.
“What’s most important is that all students are able to recognize what’s happening at the university and be in the conversations of how we should move forward,” Head said. “And that’s what the MSA executive cabinet is committed to doing right now.”
MSA elections were postponed for a week, until Nov. 16. The @MSAmizzou account tweeted about the change.
Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.