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Board of Curators Holds Meeting to Listen to Student Concerns

The University of Missouri Board of Curators held a meeting Friday afternoon to listen to the concerns of multiple student groups. 13 groups registered for the chance to speak to the board and other campus leaders, including newly appointed interim diversity chancellor Chuck Henson, interim UM system president Mike Middleton, and interim MU chancellor Hank Foley.

Don Cupps, one of the curators, said the meeting was called to give board members a chance to listen to the comments.

“We want you to speak very succinctly and directly to the issue,” Cupps said. “We are interested in hearing and we will not be asking questions unless we don’t understand something.”

Cupps opened the meeting saying he didn’t realize today’s discussion was scheduled on the Friday before Thanksgiving break. Timothy Love, speaking on behalf of the English Graduate Student Association, challenged the curators on the rationale behind the scheduling of the meeting.

“I am interested in discussions that end in effective results,” Love said. “And I am wondering if this discussion will end in effective results. Why in the hell did you schedule this on the eve on Thanksgiving break? Are you interested in results? If you are interested in results you should’ve had this meeting a long time ago.”

Love also asked the curators about the resignation of former UM system president Tim Wolfe.

“Did you urge Tim Wolfe to resign from office because the football players threatened to deprive this university of $1 miilion?” Love said. “Or did you do it because it was the right thing to do?”

Shelbey Parnell, an original member of Concerned Student 1950, also spoke to the panel. She said Wolfe’s removal or resignation met one demand, but the group still had others.

“Though Tim Wolfe has resigned, our second demand has still not been completely met,” Parnell said. “There is still a current demand for shared governance in terms of selecting those who rule our campus and our system.”

Issues of lack of diversity were frequently brought up. Another major issue brought to the Board of Curators’ attention was the lack of funding for MU campus libraries, following the failure of a proposed increase in library fees last week. Tyler Adelstein, speaking on behalf of the University of Missouri Library Ambassadors, said the university’s funding shouldn’t be an extra burden on students.

“I don’t think that the fee failed because they didn’t want to see the libraries better,” Adelstein said. “The fee failed because they thought that library is such an essential part of the university that it should come from the general revenue of the university.”

Adelstein also said compared to other Association of American universities,  MU libraries are understaffed by about 100 people, have a collections budget of only $8 million compared to the average of $14 million, and are often overcrowded.

Adelstein pointed out the last time significant money was given to the libraries was in 1988, when an extension was built for Ellis Library. He said the library was built for 20,000 students but the university has now grown to 35,000.

The members speaking on behalf of the Forum on Graduate Rights said the short notice of the meeting and the reduction of time allotted to speak was representative of the system’s views of graduate students as a whole.

Kristofferson Culmer, a member of the forum, said the curator’s decisions fell in line with the less than 12-hour notice that was given about their health insurance being cut. He also pointed to their stipend as an example of the lack of appreciation for graduate students.

Following the listening session, Cupps said they would review their notes before holding a press conference addressing the students’ concerns.