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Mizzou Football Players Demand Resignation of University President for Handling of Race Incidents

Members of the football team at the University of Missouri are boycotting all team activities until the university’s president resigns, stemming from criticism over his handling of recent racial incidents on campus.

Students say Tim Wolfe has not seriously addressed these incidents of racial discrimination. Recently, for example, a student drew a swastika on university property, and protesters were allegedly threatened with pepper spray. One student, Jonathan Butler, went on a hunger strike in order to put a spotlight on the issue.

“Although these incidents individually are not his fault, as a collection of incidents at the university they are his responsibility to address,” Butler wrote in a letter posted on his Facebook page. “… In each of these scenarios, Mr. Wolfe had ample opportunity to create policies and reform that could shift the culture of Mizzou in a positive direction but in each scenario he failed to do so.”

The university’s athletic department said it supports the athletes’ right to protest. Head football coach Gary Pinkel posted a photo of the team on Twitter, writing that he and his coaching staff support the players in their boycott.

Without calling on Wolfe to resign, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement that both sides need to resolve their differences.

“Racism and intolerance have no place at the University of Missouri or anywhere in our state,” Nixon said. “Our colleges and universities must be havens of trust and understanding. These concerns must be addressed to ensure the University of Missouri is a place where all students can pursue their dreams in an environment of respect, tolerance and inclusion.”

The Columbia Missourian compiled a list of specific racial incidents since September.

Watch CNN’s report above.

UPDATE — 3:40 p.m. ET: Wolfe released a new statement on Sunday afternoon in which he pledged to continue working with his critics to “address these very complex, societal issues as they affect our campus community.”

Here’s the full statement:

It is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns. My administration has been meeting around the clock and has been doing a tremendous amount of reflection on how to address these complex matters.

Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides, and are confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses. We want to find the best way to get everyone around the table and create the safe space for a meaningful conversation that promotes change. We will share next steps as soon as they are confirmed.

In conjunction with campus representatives, the university began work on a systemwide diversity and inclusion strategy, plan and metrics for the University of Missouri System as part of my strategic goals (see 1.4.i of the System Strategic Plan) as approved by the Board of Curators in summer 2015.

Our due date for announcing the strategy was April 2016, having allowed for multiple stakeholders (e.g., faculty, staff, students, consultants) across the system to provide input into the plan.

The majority of items listed on the Concerned Student 1950 List of Demands were already included in the draft of the strategy. While the student list provides more detail and more specific metrics than had been established in the UM System plan, we had anticipated providing specificity and detail to the plan over the coming months.

In the meantime, I am dedicated to ongoing dialogue to address these very complex, societal issues as they affect our campus community.

[Image via Twitter / @GaryPinkel]

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