© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Racial slurs force Mizzou to address continuing problems, a year after protests

University of Missouri students protest a series of racist incidents on the Columbia campus in this photo from Nov. 9, 2015.
Bram Sable-Smith | KBIA
University of Missouri students protest a series of racist incidents on the Columbia campus in this photo from Nov. 9, 2015.

The University of Missouri is investigating a report by two black female students who said other students yelled racial slurs at them on its Columbia campus.

According to a statement from the Legion of Black Collegians, the incident began late Tuesday night when a group of white students walked past two members of its Activities Committee.

The legion said one of the white students yelled a racial slur at the women, who then contacted other legion members. Campus police arrived, but the legion said members of a fraternity then began shouting other obscenities and slurs at the legion members. It also said some officers used what it called "excessive verbal force" in trying to de-escalate the situation.

"Any student that selects to intentionally use hate speech on a campus that pushes the morals of 'inclusivity' and 'diversity' does not belong and their presence continues to foster the apparent dichotomy amongst Black and white students," Legion members wrote in a  statement.

Interim Chancellor Hank Foley wrote in a statement the university has "zero tolerance" for racism or sexism. The university also says discipline for students who violate the university's nondiscrimination policies may include expulsion.

"I am outraged and saddened to hear of this!" Foley wrote. "The safety and security of our campus is our No. 1 priority; the University of Missouri is committed to fostering an inclusive campus environment where all students, faculty, staff and visitors can live, learn, work and feel safe."

The university's statement also indicated that Kevin McDonald, the interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity is meeting with students who were affected, while the Counseling Center is also offering assistance.

Justin Kirk, the executive director of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, said the organization is "aware of a verbal altercation that took place in front of our chapter at the University of Missouri on Tuesday evening, Sept. 27. We have placed the chapter on an emergency suspension as we work closely with the university to learn more about the incident. Racism and sexism have no place in our Fraternity and we expect our members to be positive contributors to inclusive campus environments."

The Legion said it would be working with Mizzou's administration to develop policies and "follow up" actions. But in its letter, the students expressed disappointment that this incident followed several months of attempts to improve race relations on campus. Last year, a series of racial confrontations triggered weeks of protests, the resignation of high-level administrators, and the hiring of McDonald.

"To say that we are disgusted is beyond an understatement," Legion members said in a statement. "It is often said that history repeats itself, but the ignorance that occurs on the University of Missouri's campus always seems to be too familiar. Due to the continuation of an intolerant culture, students of color have been attacked yet again."

The full statement from the Legion can be found on its Twitter page.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @stephlecci