The past few days have witnessed a surprising drama on the campus of the University of Missouri. Briefly, a large portion of the student body lead by the men’s football team demanded the resignation of the University President (or else the football team would not play in its next game). Game cancelation would come with a $1 million penalty for Missouri. Yesterday the President resigned along with the Chancellor. Hmmm.
News reports indicate the protests were about discrimination and the apparent lack of concern exhibited by the University to combat the alleged discriminatory or racist incidents. Like Ferguson, African American students claimed the otherwise “white” institution did not care about “blackness”. Hmmm.
In the upcoming days and weeks more information will come forward and a more coherent picture should emerge. Discrimination and racism are denounced in all major universities including Missouri. One question about Missouri will be what de facto policies (or lack of policies) existed to cause the student body to rise up and demand the President’s resignation.
While that story develops there are three big yellow (which may later turn red) flags to consider.
Student leaders cited several recent incidents where the President did not personally address the concerns and complaints of “some” African American students. For these students lack of a President’s statement translated into a lack of interest or concern. It is not hard to see the perceived connection between no concern and unacceptability as President.
Most university President’s are hired and retained by how well they do in “growing the university” and even more importantly, how much outside funding the University and its endowment funds attract. In other words, the President’s job is tied to money.
Sports reputation, academic recognition, and a growing student population are all marked as signs of a successful President but normally at Universities the size of Missouri, the operations of these programs are overseen by others.
Does this incident mark a change in university President’s remit?
The NCAA and all other Division 1 “big time” football and basketball programs do not need to drink any coffee today. The Missouri incident has gotten their attention. Student athletes can unite, refuse to play unless certain demands are met, and bring Universities to their knees.
The current money making juggernaut called the NCAA could be out of business in weeks if the “student athletes” on Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and Baylor said “pay us or we won’t play”. Hmmm.
Lastly and the most difficult is the quandary over what have the University of Missouri African American students just won? Will they be free of further discrimination or racist motivated slights? Will these students be more prepared to enter the greater work place and win in the work place with superior problem solving, steadier emotional IQ, and harder work than their competition? Will the resignation in someway set these protester on a path to success in life?
Every road has forks where one can take one path at the expense of not talking the other. The University of Missouri, like all other schools of higher learning is standing at a fork. Will they recognize that universities should be about learning? Sports are nice, beautiful campuses are a plus, and charismatic university Presidents are well received. Without preparing the student to survive, thrive, and succeed in real life, the University has failed. Let’s hope the University of Missouri makes the most of this situation and that other universities and organizations adjust before they meet their “protestors”.