The MU athletic department faced criticism on social media Wednesday after a problematic graphic was posted on Twitter around 5:30 p.m.

The tweet was part of MU Athletics’ ongoing efforts to promote inclusion as part of the NCAA’s Diversity and Inclusion Social Media Campaign this week.

Before it was removed at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, the tweet in question had pictures of three MU athletes and an athletics staff member, accompanied by “I am ... ” and “I” statements.

Mizzou Athletics Tweet

A tweet from Mizzou Athletics on Wednesday night caused controversy. Mizzou Athletics apologized for the tweet late Wednesday night. Mizzou issued a post later that night, “Earlier we made a mistake when we posted a graphic about our student athletes,” Mizzou Athletics said in a tweet apologizing for the previous post.

Arielle Mack, a black freshman track athlete, was pictured with the statement “I am an African American woman.” Chad Jones-Hicks, a black ticket office assistant, according to MU Athletics’ website, was accompanied by the statement “I value equality.”

Meanwhile, the caption for Chelsey Christensen, a white gymnast and junior at MU, read, “I am a future doctor.” Another caption attributed to freshman swimmer CJ Kovac, also white, said, “I am a future corporate financer.”

The tweet prompted quick reactions on Twitter — many from black MU students and alumni.

Others mocked the tweet, some even employing short videos and memes.

Several responses criticized the tweet while acknowledging that the intention and insertion of the quotes may have been out of context.

In conjunction with removing the graphic at 10:45 Wednesday night, MU Athletics tweeted an apology. Along with a posted video, the tweet read:

“Earlier we made a mistake when we posted a graphic about our student athletes. We apologize. Our intent was to provide personal information about our students, but we failed. We listened and removed the post. This video better represents our intent to celebrate our diversity.”

That video contained an extended quote from Mack, who said, “I am an African American woman, a sister, a daughter, a volunteer and a future physical therapist.”

Mack said an email was sent by MU Athletics requesting volunteers for an inclusion campaign, which she signed up for and then submitted her statement via email. “I am ... ” statements were one of four daily themes for the week’s campaign.

She said she didn’t think too much of the tweet, as MU Athletics used her own language. She also said the department did the right thing by deleting the tweet in light of all the controversy.

MU spokesperson Christian Basi said the university stands behind MU Athletics’ apology tweet.

Galen Bacharier contributed to reporting.

  • Public Life Reporter, Fall 2019. Studying Investigative Journalism and Political Science. Contact me at paulschloesser@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • Galen Bacharier is a former assistant city editor and reporter at the Missourian. He covered higher education, state government and breaking news.

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