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Students’ hunger strike, athletes’ threatened walk-out led to action

By Liz Alper

November 10, 2015 (Columbia, Mo.) -  Just one year after the shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, the nation's collective eyes are again focused on Missouri. This week, students at the University of Missouri successfully pushed for resignation of the campus president following his failure to halt racial slurs on campus.

University president Tim Wolfe resigned on Monday after students staged a hunger strike and athletes threatened to walk off the field amid protests over Wolfe’s apathy toward recent incidents targeting blacks, Muslims and Jews.

At the school's homecoming parade October 10th, black students surrounded Wolfe's car demanding a response, but he refused to get out or answer their questions.

Black players on the Tigers football team joined the protest Saturday night, saying they would not participate in team activities, including games, until Wolfe resigned.  Head coach Gary Pinkel tweeted that the coaching staff stood behind the players 100 percent.  He and several white players and coaches posed in a photo with black players, arms linked together.

The protests were organized by a student organization called Concerned Student 1950, which is also the hashtag that supporters of the protesters, such as Coach Pinkel, have used.  The group has been forming protests since late September when Missouri Students Association President Payton Head, who is black, was targeted by racists who called him a racial slur.  

Black students, who make up just eight percent of the student body, are not the only minorities being targeted.  A swastika drawn in feces was found in a dormitory bathroom.

The players' strike has ended now that Wolfe has resigned, and the team will be back on the field to take on BYU Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium. A Muslim woman reported that she was called a “terrorist” and told she was “asking for it” based on her attire.

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