MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Thursday that the University of Missouri will soon require faculty and new students to go through diversity and inclusion training.
His announcement came following an incident of racism that occurred during the early hours of the morning on October 5. The Legion of Black Collegians homecoming royalty court was practicing a performance at Traditions Plaza when a racial slur was yelled at them.
“Beginning the spring semester of 2016, all incoming students will be required to complete training that addresses the issue of racism at Mizzou, informs them of our campus’ many diverse organizations and resources, and emphasizes each student’s responsibility to be inclusive while they are at the university,” Loftin said in his email to students and faculty Thursday morning.
Loftin also said incoming students will not be able to enroll in any courses until the training is complete. He is not requiring students currently at the university to do take the training. He said this is the first of many steps, but that he has to make these steps manageable for the university. He also stated that students have an extraordinary capability to start making difference.
“I believe that’s where the ultimate source of power will come from is the students themselves,” Loftin said. “We will certainly work hard to develop good training, good awareness and good advice for them. Ultimately you have to do two things; you have to have your heart in the right place and you have to take actions based on your heart.”
Loftin said he doesn’t believe that the majority of people on campus are racist, and there are a number of people who are committed and passionate about diversity on campus.
MU Faculty Council Diversity Enhancement Chair Angela Speck said people have become sensitized to the issue in a way that they weren’t before.
“I think that started because of Ferguson,” Speck said. “So, although it’s been going on for a really long time, much longer than the last year, I think the fact that Ferguson is within Missouri and we are the biggest state institution that it really brought out and helped a lot of people understand the problems that we have on campus.”
Speck said Ferguson allowed these issues on campus to go viral, and that is a good thing. She said it has allowed us to raise awareness and start a conversation on racism.
The racial slur directed at the Legion of Black Collegian’s homecoming court was not the first incident this semester that sparked controversy about racism. Missouri Student Association President Payton Head was also recently affected by racism on campus. Head took to Facebook to air his frustrations with the campus and called on MU to start making a difference.
Loftin said the university will conduct a climate survey and begin an immediate search for a newly named position- Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. He said that Provost Garnett Stokes will be leading a national search for this position and that they are searching for the best person who can understand the challenges we face and help us move toward a better future.