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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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CDI opens raw conversation about racial profiling and the need for communication


The Center for Diversity and Inclusion opened up its office for students, faculty and organization leaders to have a raw dialogue about the recent events that are transpiring at the University of Missouri.

On Monday, Mizzou system President Tim Wolfe resigned amid student protests of his handling of racial incidents on campus.

“My decision to resign comes out of love, not hate,” Wolfe said. “Please, please use this resignation to heal and start talking again.”

Racial profiling, freedom of speech and the administration’s lack of action, transparency and miscommunication within the Mizzou campus were some of the issues discussed at Thursday’s event. A few attending came dressed in black in support for the student activists at Mizzou.

“The question is, what can we do to be proactive, how can we move from the past? We didn’t strategize the past, but we can strategize the future,” graduate student in higher education leadership and policy study Rickey Frierson said. “We have to look at the representatives at the table and in what proportion are they represented in that leadership table. We need to fill that void in diversity. That’s how we enact change.”

Student Government Association senator Matthew Wiltshire said this incident raises the question of how one can fully express their freedom and ideologies without facing the repercussions.

“The first amendment doesn’t grant us free speech, but it prohibits the government from pulling it away,” Wilshire said. “These administrators had to leave because they thought the wrong thing, they didn’t act in the proper way. I do believe that it is better for society when those people get to spout their hate or their ideologies, because we then learn why they are wrong. There is no way for us to learn otherwise.”

Within the conversation, a few disputes were expressed. Wiltshire said there is no true dialogue without open-mindedness.

“I’m the utmost conservative senator in SGA, so I’m used to people who disagree with me,” Wiltshire said. “I’m not one to shut their ideologies down. When you go into a situation with the unwillingness to accept that you might be wrong, then there’s no point in going.”

Everyone had a different stance on the situation, but that’s exactly why CDI Director Niya Blair, along other coordinators, wanted to start this conversation.

“A lot of times (we) talk about these (topics) within our close group of friends, but in here we are all able to hear different perspectives and set of ideals that we can learn from,” Blair said.

CDI wants to provide a space for students and everyone else a chance to talk about things concerning them not just in this campus, but around the country.

“We hope that this conversation doesn’t stop here,” Blair said. “I hope that the conversation continues, from here to the residential halls to the classrooms, just in a variety of ways. This way we can have a better conversation and create a better support system for one another.”

Blair said we have a diverse community that needs to be cultivated.

“We are taking for granted the advantage that this diverse community gives us,” Blair said. “We’re in a great position to do it, and we should do it. That’s the only way we can grow.”

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