On Saturday night, a group of University of Missouri football players announced that they would boycott all football-related activities until University President Timothy Wolfe resigns.
The decision came after about 30 black student athletes met with graduate student Jonathan Butler, who began a hunger strike last week and has vowed not to eat until Wolfe is removed.
The players announced the strike in a Tweet featuring a statement of their beliefs and a photograph of the black players standing arm-in-arm.
— LBC (@MizzouLBC) November 8, 2015
The controversy currently raging at the University of Missouri stems from a series of racist incidents on campus in recent months.
Here’s a summary from St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
A series of events this semester — some involving race — have brought matters to a head.
In September, student body president Payton Head, who is black, posted an account on Facebook about how he was walking down a street when a group of men driving by yelled racial slurs at him.
In October, a black student group said they were confronted by a man in Traditions Plaza on campus who used a racial slur. Also last month, someone used human feces to draw a swastika in a bathroom inside Mizzou’s Gateway Hall.
Students first confronted Wolfe on Oct. 10 by blocking his car during Mizzou’s homecoming parade. They were met by chants of “M-I-Z-Z-O-U” from white bystanders trying to shout down the protest.
Last week, Jonathan Butler, who is pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy analysis, promised to forgo all food and nutrition until Wolfe steps down.
Saturday night, Wolfe was confronted by students outside a fundraiser in Kansas City. A video of the confrontation shows a resigned-looking Wolfe talking to students as they prod him to give his definition of systematic oppression.
“I will give you an answer, and I’m sure it’ll be a wrong answer,” he said.
“Systematic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have the equal opportunity for success,” he added.
Students shouted at Wolfe, saying he was blaming them for injustice.
And here’s video of Timothy Wolfe’s aforementioned encounter with students on Saturday:
saw this last night but didn’t have context. the system president. presented without comment. pic.twitter.com/KVGvf30vQp
— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) November 8, 2015
On Sunday, one Mizzou football player who spoke to ESPN on condition of anonymity said players and coaches were not united in the decision to strike. He also said that a lot of guys, both black and white, were pissed, and that this wouldn’t be happening if the team were 9-0.
Presumably this anonymous player was basing his statements on things that were said at a team meeting called by Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel on Sunday. However, after that meeting, Pinkel tweeted this message of support:
— Coach Gary Pinkel (@GaryPinkel) November 8, 2015
The Missouri Athletic Department also issued a statement supporting the players, saying they have the right to act on their consciences.
So while the Missouri football players may not be 100% united over this situation, the official statement from the team’s coach and the school athletic department could not be more clear.