What in the world is going on at the University of Missouri? Today, after President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation, in the face of protests by student group Concerned Student 1950, a hunger strike by Jonathan Butler, and several members of the football teams said they would not take place in team activities, celebration broke out on campus.
Then, things took a weird turn. Media, understandably, descended on Columbia to cover this big story. They were physically barred from the area in the Carnahan quad where the protestors had been organizing. Verbal confrontation was not enough, and childish antics like walking toward a journalist and pushing him backward were employed.
The worst part? The adults who enabled and encouraged and were in the middle of this ridiculous behavior. Most of us would have been caught up in that mob-like behavior at age 20, feeling invincible. The woman in the above video, at the end of it, who asks for muscle to physically remove a reporter is Melissa Click, a communications professor at the University. Just two days earlier, she was asking for media friends to cover the protests on Facebook.
What is bizarre, and perhaps lacking in perspective, was the sudden mob mentality switch here, fearful of the media and not wanting someone else to tell their story (something shared in common with large corporations who want to control the message). I am offering this as an educated guess, but those who were predisposed to denouncing the protests were probably not there today in person to get the perspective of the protesters and document it up close for posterity. Most of those they were antagonizing were there to document the event as journalists.
I am a Missouri graduate. I am not an idealogue who reflexively started defending or promoting a position. I did not have a negative or positive reaction to the initial stories. I respected the right to protest, and had respect for the Missouri football team actions in asserting their power for something they thought was important. Of course, hearing about racist incidents on campus pains me. I am not, and was not, sure that the goal in this case was appropriate, but that is beyond me and sometimes you acknowledge that you don’t share the same perspective. Maybe Wolfe needed to go to address these issues, maybe his resignation will not have the necessary result.
But after witnessing the actions today, I am truly embarrassed. I hope that some adults, and not the ones out there militantly trying to suppress people covering the event, step up.