On July 9th 2017, The New York Times released an article discussing how students are shunning the University of Missouri due to the events that transpired here in November of 2015.
This article discussed how enrollment has spiraled downward by 35% in the past two years, university employees are losing their jobs, and budget cuts are being made. The hardest hitting part of this article was the deep-seated notion that students are avoiding coming to Mizzou in fear of being targets of racism and bigotry.
I am here to tell you firsthand why choosing Mizzou is one of the best choices I have made and to shine light on the other side of the story: the side of actual student life at a great university.
The protests at Mizzou happened my senior year of high school. I had not yet chosen a university to attend, but Mizzou was one of my top choices. Watching the news, I was never concerned that Mizzou might not be the right choice for me but I can understand why it would factor into the decisions of others. Did it concern me that a portion of the student body was involved in such a negative and distasteful riot? Of course. But ultimately, I chose to attend due to the fantastic journalism school that Mizzou is known for and I have never regretted my decision.
I had many classmates in high school ask if the events that had happened at Mizzou factored into my decision to attend. Honestly, they did not. Writing off an entire university due to an unfortunate event that happened there is much like choosing a book based on its cover. You are only seeing a small portion of a large entity. If every student chose not to go to a university due to a negative incident that occurred there, every university would be in trouble. While Mizzou got a lot of media attention during these events, we often forget that the media preys on negative news because it sells (trust me, I'm a J-School student!). All around the country, the media tends to report on Greek life deaths from drinking or sports team scandals, but rarely the achievements of the student body that represent the greatest portion of a university. You don't often hear of the amazing things that go on here so I will be that voice.
My first week at Mizzou was an experience I will never forget. There were so many activities and seminars I had to attend, one of which was solely based on the events of November 2015. This seminar emphasized that Mizzou is one big inclusive family and after attending for a year, I can truly say that is correct. Not once did I witness racism firsthand or hear from anyone who encountered it. In fact, I felt more open to approaching my classmates with different backgrounds than myself and truly enjoyed making friends with those of different ethnic groups. While I myself am not a minority and do not want to speak for those who are, to me, Mizzou feels like the perfect place to build relationships with people of every color, background, sex, gender, etc. Mizzou tries hard to ensure that every student feels safe and like they have a place at this university.
The events of November 2015 are also not something that we consider taboo on our campus. I had many professors encourage discussions and debates based on these events and there never seemed to be any palpable tension during them. Students seemed genuinely concerned for each other's feelings of belonging and wellbeing at Mizzou. Why? Because we are all here for one reason: to get a good education from a great university. And Mizzou definitely does not disappoint in that aspect.
While this article in the Times does not put Mizzou in a positive light, it gives us the opportunity to fix ourselves for the future and prove that our campus is a safe and inviting place to get an education and build friendships. So, if you are considering coming to the best college in the Show Me state, let us SHOW YOU that we are a family that all take pride in being Tigers and we are determined to prove that our university is more than its past mistakes.