Mizzou Astronomy Professor Angela Speck said the environment on campus must be improved since protests of racism earlier this month. Speck is a faculty diversity enhancement committee member and said people must be taught that racism exists, and that minorities and people in the LGBT community feel left out on campus.
“If you are a person of color in the U.S., you are scared for your life every day. Look at the things that have happened with police brutality and people being killed. There’s a level of stress that exists,” said Speck. “That’s one of the things that people don’t really understand is that kind of underlying level of stress on people of color or other marginalized groups. So, if you are this white guy that has never suffered any of that, you are pushing back and saying this is all silly.”
Speck is hopeful that attitudes will change.
Recent protests called for the removal of then-President Tim Wolfe for his response to anti-black and Jewish incidents on campus. Wolfe eventually resigned.
Speck said some are worried about the reputation of the university due to the national attention those protests received. She said Missourians shouldn’t feel embarrassed.
“We should be proud that we have students that weren’t willing to just give up. People think that this happened all the sudden. It didn’t. This has been building up basically since Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson,” said Speck. “Racism and other marginalization happen all over the country, not just at universities. It’s Missouri that’s really started a conversation that’s needed to happen for a long time and it’s finally happening.
Michael Brown, Jr. was shot and killed in 2014 by a then-Ferguson police officer. Brown’s death sparked national attention over race and policing, as well as weeks of demonstrations and periods of violence in Ferguson and the surrounding region.