University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned Monday under intense pressure from the student body and university administrators over inadequate responses to racist incidents on campus.

“I am resigning as president of the University of Missouri system today,” Wolfe said at a news conference Monday morning. “I have thought and prayed about this decision. It’s the right thing to do. The response to this announcement I’m sure ranges from joy to some to anger for others.”

The Guardian reports:

The pressure on Wolfe to resign increased at the weekend as the school’s football team said it would not play until he stepped down. Coaches and administrators supported the move. Hundreds of students joined a protest Sunday night over what they said was neglect – and even tolerance – by the school of flagrantly racist behavior.

The protests began after the student government president, Payton Head, who is black, said in September that people in a passing pickup truck shouted racial slurs at him. In early October, members of a black student organization said slurs were hurled at them by an apparently drunken white student. And a swastika drawn in feces was found in a dormitory bathroom.

A student group, Concerned Students 1950, named for the year the university first admitted African American students, was formed. One student, Jonathan Butler, staged a weeklong hunger strike.

Wolfe’s statement of resignation includes a graceful and honorable testament to the power of smart, direct-action protest — remarkable for a politician. He said he “takes full responsibility” for failing to take students’ grievances seriously and “forcing” them to strike against him to bring about the change their campus community needed.

He added: “The frustration and anger that I see is clear, it’s real, and I don’t doubt it for a second.”

As leaders of institutions and the communities they serve, presidents are embodiments of the policies their administrations carry out, either by action or inaction. In this spirit, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s recognition of Wolfe’s resignation as “a necessary step toward healing and reconciliation” on the campus is both appropriately sensitive and indisputably correct.

Continue reading here, and watch students react to Wolfe’s resignation below.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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