USD discusses Mizzou
SARAH BREWINGTON | NEWS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA and KEVIN NELSON | MANAGING EDITOR | THE USD VISTA
In what seemed like an eruption of racial injustice last week, University of Missouri (Mizzou) was at the front of the explosion. University President Timothy Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin have resigned under heavy criticism. After growing tension on campus between students and certain areas of administration, they resigned. Although the media has played it out to be completely race-related, there are other events that led to the turmoil.
From racial slurs thrown at various students to swastikas painted in feces, Mizzou students have been calling for reform, and asking administration to do something about the problem amongst the campus community.
As the news of Mizzou unfolds, colleges and other institutions around the country react to the situation in Missouri. At the University of San Diego, the events of Mizzou have not gone unnoticed.
Junior Jeharrah Pearl is a member of the Black Student Union is from Missouri.
“Born and raised in Missouri, knowing numerous friends as well as relatives who have attended the university the issues that have been a recent focus of media attention have been persistent throughout the history of the university and come to no surprise,” Pearl said. “I believe [Mizzou’s] administration has been inadequate in their commitment to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment for African Americans and was a primary reason I refused to even apply to that university [Mizzou].”
As Pearl elaborated on the events of Mizzou, she clarified a misconception.
“It is a misconception that their president and chancellor resigned due to an inability to correct the ideological perspectives beheld by a group of individuals,” Pearl said. “No one expects administration to alter perception; however the failure to take the initiative to investigate the issues that inhibit a safe and welcoming environment for students is a failure of policy and procedure.”
Pearl explained that this topic in relation to USD has not been a problem because of certain steps the university has taken.
“Racism on this campus is micro-aggressive and difficult for many to acknowledge unless you are cognizant of the patterns of such behavior,” Pearl said. “I think it is the university’s responsibility to advocate for diversity and inclusion, create forums and more opportunities to foster such a community, but it is the responsibility of the student body to address micro-aggressive behavior.”
Pearl placed responsibility on the student body, as well as the administration.
“I believe the university’s silence on topical issues of race and ethnicity on college campuses as well as what is going on across the country is a result of not wanting to upset their population of donors and those who financially support our institution,” Pearl said. “I understand and acknowledge the politics but I would hope that if an issue of property being defaced with hate speech occurred, it would be handled swiftly by our administration and the individuals would have to face the consequences of those actions.”
Senior Chelsea McLin and member of the BSU is unsure about how to react to the events of Mizzou.
“I am not sure what I think about Mizzou,” McLin said. “There is a lot of power in protest, but it’s certainly exhausting to have to repeat yourself over and over about things being unjust.”
McLin is referring to other events about racism in the news within the past few years. She specifically pointed out the events of Ferguson and how the BSU has been a part of combating racism.
“BSU held a protest for Ferguson last semester,” McLin said. “The protest was great, and I was glad to be a part of it.”
However McClin went on the explain that despite certain efforts, she still feels a disconnect between the USD community and the cause of abolishing or addressing racism.
“I was disheartened by so much of the negative responses from folks I go to school with,” McLin said. “It made me feel like I didn’t belong on this campus.”
While the BSU hosts many events including some discussions about racism, McLin feels that the USD community still struggles in discussing the topic.
“I don’t think USD as a whole addresses racism, because as whole the USD community doesn’t think it exists,” McLin said. “I mean there is a small percentage of people on this campus that do care about racial issues but that’s because a small percentage of that small percent are directly affected by it.”
Bentley Pojo, a junior and member of BSU, knew exactly how she felt about Mizzou.
“I think the situation at Mizzou is incredibly sad,” Pojo said. “It’s not the only school in which racism is present and I think the conversations that the situation is sparking are super important.”
Pojo however believes that the actions taken at Mizzou so far will not be enough.
“I don’t think calling for the resignation of a president or chancellor is going to fix the true problem,” Pojo said. “As the saying goes, ‘You can chop a snake’s head off and another will grow in it’s place.’ There are deeper rooted issues that need to be addressed. I really admire the strength and unity of some of the students at Mizzou, who are trying to initiate change though. I specifically thought it was awesome that the football team decided not to play any games until the president resigned.”
Pojo said that she believes USD takes a silent approach to issues like racism.
“USD doesn’t really do anything to directly address racism,” Pojo said. “It isn’t something that people are really super open to talking about. It saddens me when I see black [people] on campus mostly hanging out with only other black [people]. Our school isn’t as aggressive with racism as some schools in the south, but I personally think it does exist.”
USD previously sent out a Diverse Learning Environment survey. The survey attempted to help administration better understand the campus climate as well as it looked for ways to make the community more inclusive. A forum was held Nov. 4, discussing the results of this survey.
Based on her own experience, Pojo believes that these forums needs improvement.
“When USD, as an institution, talks about racism, it doesn’t feel genuine,” Pojo said.
Pojo related her views about the events of Mizzou to her own feelings about inclusivity.
“As a student of USD, I don’t really feel like I fit in,” Pojo said. “I am still looking for my niche really. Sometime USD feels like high school, a bunch of cliques and not much unity.”
Both Pojo and McLin feel that there is an awareness issue at USD. While USD addresses many of these issues with forums and other discussions, it seems that some students still find a disconnect between discussions and results on college campuses, including our own.