Update (11/9/2015, 12:06 p.m.): Timothy Wolfe announced on Monday he would resign. Read more here.
Timothy M. Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri system, responded to increasing calls for his resignation by saying on Sunday that “change is needed” and that his administration was working “around the clock” to deal with concerns raised by protesters angry over the university’s handling of racial controversies. But his remarks, in a statement released by the university, made no mention of resigning and did little to satisfy the protesters.
“Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides, and are confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses,” Mr. Wolfe said. “We want to find the best way to get everyone around the table and create the safe space for a meaningful conversation that promotes change. We will share next steps as soon as they are confirmed.”
The statement came as cries of support for a graduate student’s hunger strike over racism at the flagship campus, in Columbia, reached a fever pitch. Opposition to Mr. Wolfe’s leadership reached a new peak on Sunday, when the university’s head football coach, Gary Pinkel, tweeted a statement of support for football players who said they would not play until the president stepped down:
The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players. #ConcernedStudent1950 GP pic.twitter.com/fMHbPPTTKl
— Coach Gary Pinkel (@GaryPinkel) November 8, 2015
Heightening the drama, the university system’s Board of Curators announced on Sunday evening that it would hold a special meeting Monday morning, and the first agenda item is to meet in executive session. It was not made explicit whether the meeting was set to discuss Mr. Wolfe.
Meanwhile, two graduate-student organizations have called for their members to walk out of classes on Monday and Tuesday “in solidarity with anti-racism activists.” The groups said that they were “outraged” by Mr. Wolfe’s statement on Sunday and that their “fight against labor exploitation has common cause with campus fights against other forms of systemic inequality and oppression.”
Students at Missouri have for months protested what they say is Mr. Wolfe’s failure to deal with a culture of racism at the university. The protests, driven by several racist incidents, have ramped up significantly since last Monday, when Jonathan Butler, a graduate student, began a hunger strike, saying he would not eat until Mr. Wolfe resigned.
Organized under the name Concerned Student 1950, the protesters rejected Mr. Wolfe’s words on Sunday:
We are tired of dialogue! We want action! @UMPrez
— ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950) November 8, 2015
Mr. Butler also said he was disappointed in Mr. Wolfe’s response:
Extremely unsatisfied. He still has no true plan for change. We deserve a leader who actually cares. https://t.co/kvC5c8K2rZ
— JB. (@_JonathanButler) November 8, 2015
The football team is scheduled to play Brigham Young University in a home game on Saturday. According to a copy of the university’s contract with Brigham Young, posted by The Kansas City Star, Missouri stands to lose $1 million if it forfeits the game.