Chancellor Choi should resign.
These are words I honestly did not think I would find myself having to say so publicly. Mizzou is my proud home; whether in my hometown or abroad, I make sure to represent my university and show off my Tiger spirit.
I served for three years in student government at MU because I wanted to play a part in helping shape our legacy and ensuring we lived up to our ideals.
For many at Mizzou, especially those who were here in 2015, it’s clear how hard doing so can be. Mizzou, like other universities, has a long and complicated history with diversity, with race, with its students. 2015 was neither the beginning nor the end of our problems, but it did blow them wide open. Because of the actions of brave students standing up, of movements such as Concerned Student 1950 challenging the administration, Mizzou was forced to start on a path toward change. That process of reforming isn’t over, and neither is the work to repair our reputation; it is a daily process of showing potential students that we’re doing better. It is rebuilding trust for current students, for those who felt burned by the university’s hostility to student unrest.
I remember sitting in a meeting with Provost (Latha) Ramchand two years ago, where she emphasized just how critical it was that we keep taking steps forward, that Mizzou could not afford a step backward. Unfortunately, Choi has managed to undo a lot of that progress.
It has been six months since Choi became interim chancellor and less than two since he permanently became chancellor and president.
Since taking over, Choi has repeatedly been found to be discouraging staff from speaking out and silencing dissent. With charged phrases like “we don’t remove history,” echoing those defending Confederate monuments, Choi cut off any dialogue about the Jefferson statue. When publicly challenged about his heavy-handed tactics by faculty at a meeting, he casually brushed off concerns as overreactions.
After being challenged on Twitter by students for COVID-19 plans that have left over 1,000 students with the virus and policy violations run rampant, Choi simply blocked them — a move that has since led to a potential lawsuit. (Editor’s note: Choi did reverse course and has unblocked students.)
In a Maneater article published Sept. 11, Choi was again caught threatening staff not to speak against him — public dissent would not be acceptable. Students weren’t immune either. Protests and dissent like those in 2015 by students were to be “challenged” and “discouraged” for being too costly and too damaging to be tolerated.
In six months, President-Chancellor Choi has taken every opportunity to quash opposition, ignore student concerns and listen to dollars from Jefferson City over dollars from students paying to attend the university. If he behaved this way as a dean, he would lose his job.
Instead, it was people like former College of Education Dean (Katherine) Chval who lost their jobs for not being on his side of the fence. (Editor’s note: Chval was removed as dean July 7 but remains on the faculty in the College of Education.)
Mizzou has enough struggles to deal with as we continue to rebuild trust with our community, particularly minority students and faculty. We don’t have time to take steps backward. If Choi’s plan is to lead us in that direction, he shouldn’t be in charge.
Dayan Reynolds is a senior at MU and former student government leader.