A group of roughly 30 black players on Missouri’s football team are refusing to participate in team activities until university president Tim Wolfe leaves his job.
The players made their announcement Saturday night in a tweet from Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians.
Tensions have been running high on the campus after several incidents this semester, including the drawing of a swastika with human feces on a dormitory.
Missouri graduate student Jonathan Butler since has gone on a hunger strike and also is calling for the removal of Wolfe.
Missouri athletic department spokesman Chad Moller released a statement Saturday on the football players joining Butler in calls for the president’s ouster:
“The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.”
Wolfe also released a statement Saturday addressing the school’s growing racial tensions, although he did not mention the football players.
“Today I again had the opportunity to meet with MU graduate student Jonathan Butler who continues a hunger strike protesting the inequalities, inequities, and obstacles faced by students, faculty and staff at the University of Missouri,” Wolfe said in a statement. “I am very concerned about Jonathan’s health. His voice for social justice is important and powerful. He is being heard and I am listening.
“I am thankful for the leadership provided by him and the other student leaders in raising awareness of racism, injustice, and intolerance. This afternoon I also met with representatives of several student groups and I value their input and hear their voices.
Racism does exist at our university and it is unacceptable. It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case. I truly want all members of our university community to feel included, valued and safe.”