By Doug Porter
One week ago University of Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler began a hunger strike as a protest against “a slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents that have dynamically disrupted the learning experience.” His decision to undertake this hunger strike followed months of futile attempts by different groups to get the school to pay attention to what was going on their midst.
This non-violent challenge to the status quo garnered nationwide attention. This morning University President Timothy Wolf announced his resignation as protests on the campus continued to build.
The media caught on to the story when MU football team has announced it would no longer practice or compete. Faculty members called for a walk out, and the student Missouri Student Association executive board joined in Butler’s call for the removal of school president Tim Wolfe, saying he has “enabled a culture of racism and has disrespected and ignored the concerns of students.
“During this hunger strike, I will not consume any food or nutritional sustenance at the expense of my health until either Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost,” Butler wrote in a letter sent to the UM System Board of Curators.
His letter referenced incidents of black students being called racist slurs, the sudden removal of graduate student health insurance subsidies in August, MU’s cancellation of Planned Parenthood contracts and the swastika drawn with human feces found in an MU residence hall two weeks ago.
“(S)tudents are not able to achieve their full academic potential because of the inequalities and obstacles they face,” Butler wrote. “In each of these scenarios, Mr. Wolfe had ample opportunity to create policies and reform that could shift the culture of Mizzou in a positive direction but in each scenario he failed to do so.”
About 150 students joined an encampment on Sunday at the University of Missouri campus, praying for the hunger-striking student, singing songs and listening as Bible verses were read. At least 20 tents were set up, and many planned to camp out overnight amid temperatures that had dropped into the low 40s. Students wrapped in blankets huddled together.
The video below features Associated Students President Peyton Head, talking about his reasons for supporting the hunger strike:
The Football Team Joins the Struggle
From the Washington Post:
The football team is perhaps the most popular — and certainly most visible — student group on campus, so the players’ surprising decision has drawn the national spotlight to a series of incidents that had cast an ominous cloud over the school’s fall semester and made Wolfe a controversial figure on campus. Student groups at the center of the movement have taken issue with Wolfe’s reaction to these incidents and what they perceive as the president’s unwillingness to engage when they have attempted to broach the issue with his administration. They view the president as so nonresponsive that his resignation is now warranted.
Wolfe did not publicly address his job status Sunday but did concede that dialogue is needed at Missouri, the state’s largest school with an enrollment of more 35,000.
The decision of the football team to suspend the season followed an encounter between supporters of the hunger strike and the college president.
From the Atlantic:
On Friday night in Kansas City, a group of University of Missouri students approached the school’s president, Tim Wolfe, outside of a fundraiser at a performing arts center he had attended. They asked him to give his definition of systematic oppression.
“I will give you an answer, and I’m sure it will be a wrong answer,” Wolfe said. Then, “Systematic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have the equal opportunity for success.”
The students reacted in shock. “Did you just blame us for systematic oppression, Tim Wolfe?” one shouted. “Did you just blame black students?”
The encounter was filmed and posted on Twitter by a student, and was widely circulated. The students were members of Concerned Student 1950, which has been staging protests on the university’s campus in Columbia this week against what they say is the school administration’s poor handling of several racist incidents that occurred this fall. The group, named for the year the University of Missouri accepted its first black students, has called for Wolfe to resign.
— Coach Gary Pinkel (@GaryPinkel) November 8, 2015
Asked by the Washington Post if he saw his activism as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, hunger striker Jonathan Butler responded:
It is, but it’s not. The Black Lives Matter movement, in terms of what that means and the symbolism of reaffirming black existence, black humanity, and so in that realm with what we’re doing with our education sessions, what we’re doing with our rallies, what we’re doing on campus is definitely bringing about this awareness that we deserve to exist in these spaces on campus and we deserve to have our lives valued. And so in that sense it’s a part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But in another sense this is really unique to campus just because of the example that we got from some of those who were organizing in Ferguson. There are three queer black women, who used their knowledge from Ferguson organizing in creating an organization called MU for Mike Brown, and from that that’s really where a lot of what has been going on on campus has been morphed from so, it is part of the Black Lives Matter movement, but not necessarily in the cookie cutter way.
(Here’s an interactive timeline of incidents on campus prepared by Mizzou’s student newspaper, The Maneater)
El Nino + Climate Change = Not So Good
Scientists say that to avoid the gravest dangers of climate change, the global surface temperature can’t be allowed to rise more than 2 °C. Past that point, the world faces catastrophic changes to food production, sea levels, wildlife, and water reserves.
And it looks like we’re already halfway there.
The UK’s Met Office notes that the temperature at the earth’s surface is currently already 1.02 °C higher than the average between 1850 and 1900. If trends continue, it will—for the first time—rise more than one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the year.
Bwa-ha-ha-ha! UT Minions Consider Briggs Proposal
The editorial board at the Union Tribune couldn’t resist calling him “the Devil,” even as they admitted the proposal Cory Briggs put forth might well be a solution to some of the problems facing downtown San Diego and Mission Valley.
To get big things done in a great city, in this case an expanded San Diego Convention Center and perhaps even a new Chargers stadium, it may sometimes be necessary to deal with the devil, in this case controversial attorney Cory Briggs.
The UT’s editorial geniuses can’t figure out why:
…it is Briggs trying to play problem-solver with this initiative, given that it was his successful lawsuit that brought a halt to the waterfront convention center expansion project in 2013 and that mere mention of his name brings many in San Diego’s business and political establishments to boil.
In the Very Small World of these defenders of the status quo, it’s inconceivable that people (Briggs included) might actually be motivated by more than personal profit.
Why would Briggs offer up a deal that would interfere with potential legal fees, as he often gets paid via court settlements? Could it be that he actually cares about the city?
The UT didn’t endorse the deal, but did urge “a serious look by the key business, labor and political players involved.”
I dunno. As I recall, the last two times the city’s key business players took a look a Cory Briggs, they sent somebody over with a blank check. It didn’t work.
Attention MTS, Here’s a Helpful Hint
It’s no secret that San Diego’s transit operators make things difficult for their “customers” to pay for their “product.”
Based on my experiences with mass transit in San Diego and elsewhere, I’ve always felt that they really didn’t actually want people using their system.
Don’t have exact change? Sorry bub, it’s no bus for you?
Want to buy a monthly pass? Sure, head on over to a few select locations, that will only take your money at certain times and make you feel real small for disrupting their day.
Handicapped? Sorry, you can only buy passes at the downtown location. And even if you’re on a respirator and in a wheelchair, you’ll need a note from the doctor.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
It doesn’t have to be that way. From TechCrunch:
Out of beta and ready for the masses of San Francisco’s public transportation commuters, MuniMobile will roll out November 16, 2015.
MuniMobile is the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) app enabling city riders to load payments for their trip on their smartphone instead of fumbling for change and waiting in line to buy tickets at the station…
…Riders will now be able to buy and use transit tickets across the transit system – including Muni buses, light rail, paratransit and SF’s famous cable cars – all within the app starting mid-November.
Lest you think that it’s just the techies in Bay Area showing off, the article points out:
Other systems such as New Jersey Transit and Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority made the switch a couple of years ago.
On This Day: 1935 – United Mine Workers president John L. Lewis and other labor leaders formed the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO). 1961 – The Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) eliminated its “caucasians only” rule. 1963 – “Louie, Louie” was released by the Kingsmen. 1967 – The first issue of Rolling Stone was published in San Francisco. John Lennon was on the cover.
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