Missouri Hunger Strike Student Jonathan Butler Speaks Out

Butler said the group is still calling for measures to reach racial equality.

November 9, 2015, 8:09 PM

— -- Just hours after University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation following allegations that the school has not properly handled incidents of racism, a graduate student who staged a one-week hunger strike in protest spoke out, saying "It is disgusting and vile that we find ourselves in the place that we do."

Jonathan Butler's protest came after the school was criticized for not taking action in a series of recent alleged racial incidents, including one involving the student body president. Wolfe apologized for "inaction."

Butler, who ended his strike today, asked students and the media to not focus on his hunger strike, but instead on the issues that made students feel this action was necessary.

Butler is a member of the ConcernedStudent1950 protest organization, which says it has represented every black student at the university since 1950, when the first black student was admitted. The group released a list of demands Oct. 20 that included Wolfe's removal, as a part of a protest over the way the university handles racial harassment. Butler's hunger strike was in support of that protest.

Butler said today, that "ignited the fire" when "the administration refused to step in" to let minority students feel "safe and included on this campus."

He said that the president's resignation is only the beginning, as the group is calling for racial equality and measures that would help reach that equality.

Besides Wolfe's removal, the ConcernedStudent1950 group's list of demands asked for several other changes, including a comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum, an increase of black faculty and staff and more funding for social justice centers on campus.

As Wolfe resigned this morning, he said he takes "full responsibility for inaction that has occurred."

"I'd ask everybody from students to faculty, staff to my friends, everybody, use my resignation to heal and start talking again to make the changes necessary and let's focus on changing what we can change today and in the future, not what we can't change which is what happened in the past," Wolfe said.

"I truly love everybody here and the great institution, and my decision to resign comes out of love, not hate," he said.

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