Two issues have been the subjects of protests at the University of Missouri this fall. One was the taking away of health care subsidies from graduate assistants. The subsidies were reinstated shortly after those protests.
The second was what protesters called a lack of response to incidents of racism on the Columbia campus. On Monday, those protests resulted in the resignation of system president Tim Wolfe and the announcement that R. Bowen Loftin would transfer out of the position of Chancellor.
Students at colleges and universities elsewhere in the U.S. could begin demonstrations similar to those seen at the University of Missouri, after seeing the results those had, according to Indiana University Higher Education Professor Lori Patton Davis.
“I think what has occurred at Mizzou could be an indicator of what’s to come on college campuses nationwide and in the Midwest, where most of the campuses are predominantly white,” said Patton Davis.
She said racial tension at colleges is not new.
“It’s sort of been brought to the surface in a different way but I think those same issues exist at Indiana University, Big 10 institutions, Big 12. The same issues exist, especially predominantly white institutions where the majority of faculty, administrators, students and curriculum are white,” said Patton Davis.
Patton Davis said many college students of color feel a lack of belonging and involvement on their campuses, including athletes.
She said the Mizzou football team demonstrated its level of influence when it refused to practice or play until Wolfe resigned.
“It will be interesting to see how teams at other institutions show up in student movements and protests, if they get to that point,” said Patton Davis.
Patton Davis studied student protests from the civil rights movement and feels a resurgence of student activism is occurring.
Her prediction could already being playing out, as hundreds of students at Ithaca College in New York staged a protest Wednesday to demand the resignation of President Tom Rochon. Some students say he has not responded appropriately to recent racially charged incidents on campus.
A campus group known as People of Color at Ithaca College is calling for a confidence vote on Rochon. The college’s faculty council is also organizing a vote.