COLUMBIA — Hundreds of prospective students flooding MU on Saturday got a lesson in civic activism when members of Concerned Student 1950 protested by holding a "mock tour" and giving presentations on the recent history of racism on campus.
Families were eating lunch at the Plaza 900 dining hall around 11:45 a.m. when members of Concerned Student 1950 joined hands and marched through the dining hall.
After a pause, the group began a tour of MU's campus. The activists recited racist incidents that have occurred at MU starting in 2010 with the dispersion of cotton balls on the lawn of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
The protesters also mentioned an incident that occurred Friday evening in which two women reported they were called a racial slur outside of the MU Student Recreation Complex.
"Two black female students, including myself, were called the N-word by four white males while being recorded outside of the rec center. Fun fact: in 2005, our rec center ... was named the best recreational facility by Sports Illustrated," a member of Concerned Student 1950 said as she stood on a chair in Plaza 900. Concerned Student 1950 has not released the names of those members.
Maj. Brian Weimer of MU Police said the department was contacted last night about the incident, and an investigation is ongoing.
A video also was posted to Twitter Friday night in which University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe responded to confrontations by protesters outside the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City at a fundraising event.
LeAnn Stroupe, MU manager of visitor relations, called a meeting for MU Tour Team members early Saturday morning in anticipation of protests during the large recruiting day for MU, said a Tour Team coordinator, Nathan Blount.
The tour guides were encouraged to explain the events to the visitors and present them in a positive light, Blount said.
Tour guides told Blount later in the day that families and guides had "good, positive interactions" about the protests.
Tom, Mary and prospective student Amy Heffernan were in Memorial Student Union at the start of their campus tour when protesters gave their first presentation, which consisted of voicing concerns and telling stories about racism on campus.
"I thought it was good that they were speaking up," Amy Heffernan said.
"They have their right to speak out," Mary Heffernan added.
Amy Heffernan said she wasn't deterred from MU because of the protesters. Some observers questioned the impact, though.
"I don't think it's a good look for the school," MU freshman Emily Peters said. "There's visitors coming in and seeing that."
The Concerned Student 1950 group marched from Plaza 900 to Rollins dining hall where an estimated 100 Girl Scouts ate on their lunch break from the "Magic of Chemistry" program.
"Most parents I know of thought it was inappropriate at the time, but I'm pretty sure (the protesters) didn't know the kids were going to be there," said Jordan Yolich, an MU sophomore.
Concerned Student 1950 linked arms in solidarity as they moved from the Rollins dining hall to the Black Culture Center for a prayer. They then marched to the MU Student Center and stopped at the protest campsite on the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle for water and snacks.
"Hey hey, ho ho, Tim Wolfe has got to go," the group chanted as they moved from the campsite to Mark Twain dining hall.
The Concerned Student 1950 mock MU tour passed through Mark Twain Hall and then moved to the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women in the Reynolds Alumni Center, where the group received a round of applause and support.
Concerned Student 1950 recited a prayer outside the Alumni Center. The words were a prayer often recited in protest by Jonathan Butler, who is in the sixth day of his hunger strike to remove University of Missouri Systems President Tim Wolfe from his position.
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win, we must love and support each other, we have nothing to lose but our chains," the group chanted.
Jennifer Aldrich, Anurag Chandran and Daniela Sirtori-Cortina contributed to reporting.
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