On Monday, just below the front-page fold of The New York Times, an article titled "Racial Protests Stain a University's Reputation" was published examining the role protests on campus in the fall of 2015 had in the declining enrollment at the University of Missouri. Unfortunately, the article has done more than the protests to "stain" Mizzou's reputation.
While it is true that many students over the past two years have chosen not to attend the university, to argue this is the sole or even major reason enrollment has declined is to ignore a litany of factors that have converged to create such a decline. There are fewer college-bound students in the Midwest now after 15 years of growth. Surrounding state and conference universities have increased recruitment of Missouri students. Our neighbor, the University of Illinois, has launched a goal to increase system enrollment 15 percent. The decadeslong decline in state funding for Missouri higher education only makes recruitment even harder.
This article commits the most common and egregious offense many stories from national outlets did when reporting on the protests — it gets the facts on the ground wrong. Many stories in the past had an excuse: their reporters never set foot on campus; a year and a half later, and even after visiting campus, this one still gets it wrong. It's a good headline to say black students speaking out has ruined a university, but that isn't really the whole truth, and this article perpetuates that reductive narrative.
Until the New York Times and other national outlets understand what's really going on here at Mizzou, my fellow students and I will be fighting every day to build a campus that is more inclusive and one where every student feels heard and at home.
Christopher Dade is a chemistry senior at the University of Missouri.