Recent protesting by the both students and faculty at the University of Missouri led to the resignation of president Tim Wolfe. He exited, leaving behind hopes for more diversity. Yet, not even 24 hours after his departure, concern over racism peaked, reaching new heights on campus amid racist comments and terrifying rumors. As is the case for most movements today, social media played a pivotal role. Threatening messages cropped on various media outlets such as Yik Yak and Twitter. MSAmizzou tweeted screenshots on of a Yik Yak comment that read: "I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see." This was just one of the racist messages floating around campus. Panic filled Mizzou as rumor that the KKK was on campus spread—this was later proven to be false. Some professors went so far as to cancel classes. Countless tweets and Facebook statuses were posted by black students at Mizzou that concerned their lack of safety and what they felt were inadequate responses by faculty at their school. These complaints of lackluster responses to racism are nothing new to the largely white campus though, which is part of the reason Wolfe stepped down.
Police arrested the person responsible for posting threats on social media, a male named Hunter M. Park. He is being charged with making a terrorist threat.
University of Missouri is just the latest in colleges to be thrust into the limelight for a racist scandal. Just weeks ago, Alpha Phi and Sig Ep at UCLA fell under heavy criticism for a “Kaye Western” themed party where partygoers apparel featured “black” clothes and bottoms with padding. Some students even had brown or black makeup and paint on their faces. At the beginning of the semester, University of Alabama Alpha Phi was criticized for their recruitment video which many said emphasized nothing but looks and propagated a homogeneous Caucasian ideal. University of Oklahoma had to start an investigation when allegations of racial slurs and chants drew national attention. Last year, a noose was hung around the neck of the statue of James Meredith, a famous civil rights figure, at Ole Miss. Even U of I has had recent dealings with racial allegations. Seven former women’s basketball players for our school filed a lawsuit against the university on the grounds that the coaches created a racially hostile environment.Incidents like these are both shocking and sickening. It is one thing to understand that older generations, who were raised in different times and among more prejudice, still hold such convoluted views. After all, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, as the saying goes. But for college students, representatives of the new generation to still cling to the outdated and asinine belief of racial superiority, let alone take action based on such notions, is truly disheartening. In the wake of progressive social changes, like the legalization of gay marriage, the hope that a new era of acceptance of inconsequential differences like skin color, religion, or sexual preference is burning. Yet, stories like these dampen such hopes. The fact that such actions are occurring on campuses of higher education where both faculty and students should be setting examples of acceptance makes the reality all the more disheartening. As a member of a very diverse campus, it is my hope that we can embrace acceptance and, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, judge people not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."