Black Student Union holds town hall meeting to discuss Mizzou
Every seat was filled in the Bayou City room Tuesday as students, alumni, faculty and staff met with the Black Student Union at their town hall meeting to discuss the manifestation of student activism and recent events unfolding at the University of Missouri.
“Look around you. There are many organizations and events black students can get involved in, from BSU, the NAACP, Collegiate 100 and the Black Caucus,” BSU president Jayln Gordon said. “The faces I see coming out to parties should be the same faces seeking opportunities in black activism.”
Black organizations and student body members at Mizzou encountered racial slurs and discrimination by their colleagues on numerous occasions that ignited retaliation and demand for change, ultimately resulting in the resignation of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, followed by President Tim Wolfe.
Loftin and Wolfe’s stonewall approach did not sit well with the black community at the University, causing faculty to walk out, students to participate in hunger strikes and a majority of the football team’s refusal to play.
“This didn’t happen overnight,” Mizzou alumna Lauren Houston said.
“Racism was an issue when I began attending the University of Missouri in 2007. Being ignored and countless unanswered emails is what led up to this.”
This event generated the discussion of whether UH needs to be more pro-active in its black community on campus. Only 3.7 percent of faculty at our University are black, versus the 66.3 percent of whom are white. While it’s obvious to see diversity in the student body on campus, diversity among our faculty and staff is lacking, according to one student at the meeting.
“We need black mentors to guide us,” business sophomore and secretary of Collegiate 100 Miles Coleman said. “I want to be able to come to this University and feel like somebody cares about my well-being rather than seeing me as a dollar sign.”
Students and faculty made it clear that the invitation is always open for anyone wanting come to the BSU office for guidance. If students wish to see an increase in black faculty, they have to be the ones to come together and address the issue to administration.
“There’s no room to point the finger if you are not actively looking for these opportunities and mentors,” health senior and president of Zeta Phi Beta Brooke Sullivan said. “It’s not about wearing a shirt just to say your apart of something — it’s about what you do once the shirt is on.”
The events that transpired at Mizzou will not be the first or the last time an incident like this will occur, but with the support of organizations like BSU and others across the nation, UH students at the meeting said they hope the struggle to end systematic oppression can only progress.