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Xavier Smith: Why the Mizzou president had to go

dfox • Updated Nov 10, 2015 at 10:47 PM

However, I’ve followed the Concerned Student 1950 movement since September when the student body president Payton Head was called the racial slur by a group of men passing by in a pickup truck.

One thing I think is very clear is the broken timeline many people have about the movement largely due to thespotlight only being recently placed on the university’s issues following the threat of boycott by Missouri football players.

The movement did not start because of Head’s encounter with a group of men passing by, or due to a swastika being formed on campus by human feces. It was birthed from other instances occurring in the past few DECADES that have been detailed and shared via social media. 

Let me pause here and say I believe there’s a fascination with people telling other people how they should feel. These are students at an institution of higher learning. 

If there are dozens of claims of students not feeling safe and believing their safety is at risk, I would want my university president and staff to take steps to investigate, communicate and create a plan for safety.

I can’t tell those students how they should feel or act due to the fact I’ve never felt my life or safety was in danger while I was at Tennessee Tech or MTSU. 

Let’s throw this scenario out there. If five women reported rapes at University of Missouri and the president did not acknowledge the claims or even outline a plan for increased security, would you tell the other thousands of women on campus how to feel? Would you believe the president was doing his job?

Whether it’s five or 500, I believe the president of a university has the ultimate task of making sure all students feel safe in their environment. It’s in the job description in my opinion.

I’m not saying the president should be in the trenches and in meetings with the concerned students formulating plans around the clock, but if all other options have been exercised, then the president should.

But, from my reading and understanding, if the president had acknowledged the problems and taken them seriously, a hunger strike, teacher strike, student protests and football boycott would not have occurred.

Yes, there’s a highly unlikely possibility Wolfe could have prevented the numerous racial incidents at Missouri. Wolfe himself was never called a racist. But, Wolfe was accused, and I think rightfully so, of perpetuating an environment of hostility based on his silence and dismissive demeanor.

Do I think there is a perfect side of this issue? No. I feel all sides involved have made mistakes. However, Wolfe made the biggest mistake any president, principal, boss or leader could make –he lost control of his establishment.

From the negative press to (assumed) pressure from higher personnel, there was no way Wolfe could have continued as president.

Xavier Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.

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