Black students seek swifter race reforms at Mizzou

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COLUMBIA, MO (KTVI) – For the second day in a row, the University of Missouri’s Board of Curators took time to listen to students’ demands for change, particularly on the Mizzou campus in Columbia.

"If there still are no policies in place after all these months, then we have a right to be angry,” said graduate student and activist Timothy Love.

"With the racial unrest that's on campus, can you tell us right now what you're doing?" Love said.

Board member John Phillips responded, “We set forth a list of things that we wanted to do the day that our leadership resigned."

The panel of students appearing before the UM Board of Curators suggested it was time for the Curators to take action "Regardless of what you are supposed to do."

Curator David Steelman said he understood that they believed the process was important, but when the process gets in the way of action, something needs to be done. Students said they wanted to see policy changes, real programs that address racial stereotypes, and discrimination on campus, as well as an increase in African-American faculty members. Only three percent of faculty members at the Columbia campus are African-American.

On Thursday, a group of students interrupted the curators’ meeting to present a list of demands they had issued in November following a series of racial incidents that prompted on campus protests.

The four campus system is working with an interim president after protesters forced the resignation of President Tim Wolfe. There is also an acting chancellor on the MU campus.

"We thought it (was) important to hear what the students had to say,” Board of Curators President Pamela Hendrickson said. “There's no reason for us to be antagonistic towards them. They were just trying to communicate with us.”

The university system is facing criticism from citizens across the state and legislators following the unrest on campus and a recent highly critical letter from former President Wolfe. UMC interim president Mike Middleton said he has been talking to lawmakers and urging them to continue to support the University.

"We are much more than a few incidents,” he said.

Middleton also indicated he understood protestors’ anger, frustration, and embarrassment over the public nature of the exposure of some of the problems. Both Middleton and the interim chancellor Hank Foley are calling for efforts to improve diversity on campus to help students better prepare for an increasingly diverse society.

In a speech to the curators Friday, Middleton pointed to nearly $1 million in funding for diversity and equity needs on the four campuses. He also reported the university is about to hire a top diversity, inclusion and equity official to supervise the efforts. And he said they have requested bids for an audit of the institution's diversity activities. Middleton called on the state to put away hard feelings and look to the future.