COLUMBIA, MO: Resigning from his post as president of the University of Missouri, Tim Wolfe did not sidestep blame for the mounting racial strife within the campus community, but indicated this wasn’t the way he wanted to go.
Wolfe stepped down following student and faculty protests across Mizzou’s campus ignited by a "flurry of racist incidents in recent months, culminating with the swastika scrawled in excrement on October 24."
A graduate student at the university, Jonathan Butler, went on a weeklong hunger strike in an effort to "oust Wolfe and bring about change to a school administration that has been unacceptably unresponsive to a series of racist incidents on campus," according to The Washington Post.
"It is my belief we stopped listening to each other," Wolfe said at a Board of Curators meeting on Monday. "We didn’t respond or react, we got frustrated with each other and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take immediate action or unusual steps to affect change."
Over the weekend, Mizzou’s football team announced its own boycott, pledging to stay off the field until the president stepped down and said more action was expected by the campus community this week.
The athletic department tweeted its full support of the players involved. On Monday morning, the Post noted the football team’s boycott came with a potential $1 million price tag for Mizzou, which might have prompted university officials to take action.
STATEMENT (1): The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes.— Mizzou Athletics (@MizzouAthletics) November 8, 2015
(2): We must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our athletes right to do so— Mizzou Athletics (@MizzouAthletics) November 8, 2015
Wolfe said it’s his "full responsibility" for both the "frustration" and "inaction" on campus, after offering what sounded like an alternative solution in his final speech as the university’s leader.
"Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation, and we have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other, and start listening" said Wolfe, who also asked the university community to mark the end of his tenure as a time "to heal, not to hate."
In the wake of Wolfe’s resignation, reaction rippled across both Missouri’s campus itself and social media, where many users were following closely.
This was NOT a singular effort this was a COMMUNITY effort. There is power in solidarity.— JB. (@_JonathanButler) November 9, 2015
Proud of Jonathan Butler, the AA students, football team & faculty that came together to stand up against racial injustice at U of Missouri.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 9, 2015