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MU students condemn white supremacy at rally

UM students stand outside in winter coats. One holds a sign that reads "SUPPORT & PROTECT YOUR STUDENTS OF COLOR!"
MaKayla Hart
The Columbia Missourian
Aidan Glason, center, holds up a sign during a protest at Speakers Circle Monday in Columbia. For nearly two hours, students chanted and participated in an open forum where they shared personal experiences.

MU students gathered at Speakers Circle Wednesday afternoon, calling on administrators to condemn white supremacy on campus.

In recent weeks, white supremacist propaganda was posted on campus. It is not known whether the posters were posted by a member of the community or a student.

The protest started around noon, and there were about 14 people in attendance when it began. The crowd gradually grew as time went on.

Students shared anecdotes about racism and discrimination they have faced on campus and started several chants, including “Protect your students, not your money,” and a call-and-response: “M-I-Z, Z-O-U. If students die, then that’s on you.”

Students also brought chalk and wrote various phrases in Speakers Circle including “Fight White Supremacy,” “Mizzou Condones White Supremacy” and “Protect Black Students.”

MU Chancellor and UM System President Mun Choi sent out a statement on Thursday condemning discrimination, but did not reference the posters. Choi wrapped up his email with hyperlinks to the Office of Institutional Equity and the Counseling Center for anyone who has experienced discrimination or harassment on campus.

MU sophomore Gabriella Lacey, who attended the protest, said Choi’s email was late.

“He should’ve addressed it weeks ago,” she said. “I think they’re (administrators) kind of just like, ‘Oh, we acknowledge this, so we’re covering our bases’ rather than actually taking the time to listen to what’s happening and figure out what the problem is.”

Lacey shared an anecdote of how she and two of her friends were walking back to their dorms on campus one night last semester, and two white men yelled racial slurs at them. She said she was scared that they were going to turn around and come back after her friends started yelling back at them.

MU alumnus and returning student Luke Fennewald shared a story about when cotton balls were put around the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center just before his freshman year at MU in 2010. He walked by Speakers Circle as the protest was happening and shared his thoughts with the students.

A similar situation with cotton balls at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center happened in 2015 before the Concerned Student 1950 protests and hunger strike.

“They simply have not done enough, if anything,” Fennewald said. “Do the bare minimum of saying, ‘Hey, white supremacists, white hate groups are bad.’ Simple as that.”

Several protesters were not satisfied by Choi’s response.

MarKeia “Nova” Kellogg, one of the protest organizers and an MU senior, said Choi’s response was “very cookie-cutter.”

“I could have read that email, and I wouldn’t have known that it was specifically designed for Mizzou students,” Kellogg said.

“Somebody could have read that and then went, “Oh, OK,” and kept on scrolling without knowing what actually happened,” Fennewald said.

Lacey described the email as feeling like a slap in the face.

“I think they blatantly need to condemn it,” Lacey said. “Your minority students are blatantly laying everything out on the table, what is wrong, and you’re just ignoring it.”

Dominique Hodge is a junior at the University of Missouri studying cross-platform editing and producing. She is a reporter/producer for KBIA's Missouri Health Talks.
The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.