Supporting my Mizzou Students

Thom Lambert —  10 November 2015

Unless you live under a rock, you know that the president and chancellor of the University of Missouri, where I teach law, have resigned in response to protests over their failure to respond to several (three identified) racist incidents on campus. A group called Concerned Student 1950 staged a series of protests and demanded, among other things, that our president resign, that he publicly denounce his white privilege, that the university mandate a “comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum,” and that the percentage of black faculty and staff be increased to 10% by the 2017-18 school year. Last week, a student embarked on a hunger strike until Concerned Student 1950’s demands were met, and students in solidarity moved into a tent village on one of our quads.  Over the weekend, the black members of our football team threatened to boycott play until the president resigned, and our coach, facing four straight losses and little prospect of another victory this season, agreed to support and publicize the boycott.  Yesterday morning, Mizzou faculty supporting the Concerned Student group walked out of their classes and headed to the quad, where faculty and administrators joined protesting students in blocking media access to the tent village in the middle of our public quad. Around 10:00 AM, the president resigned, and protesting students danced on the quad.  Toward the end of the day, the chancellor announced that he will move from his position at the end of the year.

The Mizzou Faculty Council and the administration of the law school have expressed to Mizzou students that the faculty fully supports them.  We faculty members have been encouraged to express that support ourselves.  I want to do that now.

I want to express my support for the students for a couple of reasons.  First, I really love Mizzou.  It’s a special place full of wonderful students.  I visited at the University of Minnesota a  few years back, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Mizzou.  Our students reflect the amazing diversity of our state: inner city kids from St. Louis and Kansas City, kids from the suburbs, kids with southern accents from the bootheel, kids with near-Minnesota accents from the northern part of the state, rich kids from fancy prep schools, poor kids who went to public school in the inner city or farm towns.  Unlike so many public law schools, Mizzou has kept its operating costs and its tuition at reasonable levels, so an education here is really open to just about all qualified students from the state.  (Minnesota’s in-state law school tuition is $41,222; Missouri’s is $19,545.)  We mix everyone together and end up with a wonderful student body.  I simply adore my students.

Second, I want to support students who have been the subject of racist remarks because I, too, have experienced the pain of being mocked, criticized, ridiculed, etc. for who I am.  I was a not-very-athletic gay kid who attended the very traditional and somewhat jockish Fairview Christian Academy.  I followed that up with Wheaton College, Billy Graham’s alma mater.  For most of my formative years, I was continually reminded that I was deficient, flawed, damned.  Express slurs were few and far between (though they occurred), but I was not accepted for who I am.  I know the pain of exclusion, and I want both to provide an empathetic ear to my students who feel excluded and to sound a prophetic voice against those who discriminate.

But I could not really support my Mizzou students in this difficult time if I did not point out a few things.

First–The top administrators of a school of 35,000 people cannot prevent all instances of racism.  Ignorant, mean people are sometimes going to yell slurs from their pick-up trucks when they drive through campus.  Drunken frat boys are occasionally going to say ugly things.  When you ambush the homecoming parade, to which parents have brought their small children for a rah-rah college experience, some people are not going to be nice to you.  Those ambushed may be taken aback and may not say all the right things.  People who draw things with poop are especially hard to control. Be prepared: The people who replace the deposed president and chancellor at Mizzou are unlikely to prevent every racist incident on our campus.

Second–The U.S. Constitution forbids state institutions from employing racial quotas.  Having been involved in hiring at Mizzou for a number of years, I can assure that we bend over backward to fill open positions with qualified minority applicants. It is highly unlikely that Concerned Student 1950’s demand that the percentage of black faculty and staff at Mizzou be raised to 10% by 2017-18 can be implemented in a manner consistent with constitutional obligations.  You should know that.

Third–Free speech means more than the freedom to express views with which you agree.  I honestly think most Mizzou students understand this point, but I’m afraid that the administrator and communications professor in this video don’t grasp it.  Lest you be misled by their ill-advised bullying, you should know that the First Amendment is for everyone.

Fourth–Unreasonable demands have consequences.  We will survive this, but Mizzou has been badly weakened.  I can’t imagine that the press accounts from the last week will help with minority student and faculty recruitment next year.  That’s a shame, because based on my encounters with a great many minority students and professors at Mizzou over the past twelve years, I believe most have had good experiences.  Perhaps they haven’t been honest with me.  Or perhaps the situation has changed in the last couple of years.  If so, I’m terribly sorry to hear that. But, following the events of the last week, I can’t imagine that next year will be better.

Fifth–Regardless of your take on the events of the last week, I hope you will not let bitterness reign in your hearts.  Unlike many of my gay friends from conservative religious backgrounds, I chose years ago not to write off those people who were once unkind to me.  I’m glad I made that choice.  I hope any Mizzou student who is currently feeling marginalized for any reason will keep calm, carry on, give others the benefit of the doubt, and be open to reconciliation.

So, Mizzou students, I support you.  But I will not coddle you.  You’re adults and should be treated as such.

 

Thom Lambert

Posts

I am a law professor at the University of Missouri Law School. I teach antitrust law, business organizations, and contracts. My scholarship focuses on regulatory theory, with a particular emphasis on antitrust.

128 responses to Supporting my Mizzou Students

  1. 

    I’m offended! You forgot to include discrimination against sidewalk-kin! Everyday I feel the pain of my brothers, sisters, zirsters, and oysters as they are trampled upon! I DEMAND ALL SIDEWALKS BE LEFT UNTRODDEN! COBBLESTONE LIVES MATTER! FIRE ALL FOOTLOCKER EMPLOYEES!

  2. 

    The comment “The top administrators of a school of 35,000 people cannot prevent all instances of racism. Ignorant, mean people are sometimes going to yell slurs from their pick-up trucks when they drive through campus.” sounds likes stereotyping? I drive a “pick-up” and this is nothing like my demeanor or what I’m about. I don’t like being labeled or categorized anymore than you. For the purpose of understanding what you wrote…I’ll assume this isn’t how you meant to say it.

    • 

      This comment demonstrates yet again that people will always find imaginative ways to manufacture offense. Nice job.

    • 

      The kid who made up the story about the KKK running amok and his being in contact with the national guard also claims that some group of unknown individuals in a pick-up truck yelled racial slurs at him. The professor who wrote this article is referencing that claim. Either some guys in a pickup truck hurled racial slurs, in which case the “stereotype” is grounded in fact, or the guy who made up the story about the KKK and the national guard made it up as well, in which case you should probably direct your concern at the member of the Concerned Student 1950 who probably didn’t even realize how offensive his stereotyping can be.

    • 

      I believe one of the original allegations was that a racial slur was yelled by someone driving by in a pickup truck. I think that is the only reason a pickup truck was probably referenced.

  3. 

    I feel like we are at a crossroads and these events have happened for a real reason and at a time when they are needed. From the early 70s at the end of the civil rights movement until the just a few years ago we all knew that race relations were not perfect. But for most of that time, outside of some truly horrible incidents (think Rodney King), there was little to no one challenging the status quo. I myself grew up believing that racial issues are a thing of the past and that if we all just try our hardest, we can relate to each other and get along in harmony. After reading about the struggles of many of the individuals in this movement and knowing of other events that led up to this, I now know I was a fool. I think I have known this for a long time, but was only able to admit it as a result of these events over the last week. I hope that as a result of these events more individuals can start to understand what I have learned, that we all need to take tangible and real action if we want to see improvements.

    We all have an opportunity to choose a new path. We all have an opportunity to choose to do something that will be looked on as the next step in making this country what it has always been, a place of inclusion and unity.

    I think it is also important to choose what not to do. I promise to consume all facts of situations like this and to find ways to improve the situation and the conversation. I promise not to add to the discord or the division. I promise to find ways to bring people together and not ways to drive them apart.

    Does anyone want to be a part of taking these events and turning them into something positive? I am praying that many of you do.

    I saw that Chancellor Wolfe quoted some scripture at his resignation press conference. I looked it up and thought it was helpful. Here it is:

    Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

  4. 

    I think that writing “The top administrators of a school of 35,000 people cannot prevent all instances of racism” and “Drunken frat boys are occasionally going to say ugly things” is insulting, patriarchal and reductive of the 1950 group. Do you think they don’t know these things? And if you do think they know this, why are you writing it then? Do you truly think these occurrences instigated their demands and protests, and not the non-reaction of the university’s upper echelon to these occurrences? Or that they think a new president will “prevent every racist incident on our campus”? You’re pretending as though the group members are protesting because they think new leadership will end racism, and then retorting the sentiment you’ve put in their mouths. You seem like a bright guy, so I’m inclined to think you know better, yet still don’t understand your motivation for this type of behavior. You’re talking to them like you’re their father, as I wrote above, which IMO reeks of colonialistic white privilege (colonialistic isn’t a word but I’m making it one)

    • 

      Why should the university react?

    • 

      “(colonialistic isn’t a word but I’m making it one)” sums up your intellectual rigor nicely. Why take yes for an answer when you can invent a disingenuous way to be outraged? Why avoid in constructive dialogue when you can use trendy, meaningless buzzwords to wallow in your moral superiority?

      YOU are the problem here.

      • 

        I stopped reading after the first sentence where you decided to begin your reply with condescension. If you want to try again in a more civilized manner I’d be happy to read the rest of what you have to say

    • 

      Most of us can’t really figure out why they are protesting. We have one kid, a career student, who happens to be more privileged than 99.999% of all people (whether they be white, brown, black, albino, etc.) who got into some old socialist literature, intentionally threw himself into a car, and decided to go on a hunger strike. We have another kid – also from a wealthy family – who has manufactured a story about the KKK and being in contact with the national guard. The point is, it looks a lot like these self-important college students are just protesting to make themselves feel relevant. A rich kid who sits around reading revolutionary socialist literature for the last 4 years of his 8 year stay at MU is bound to feel a bit uncomfortable when he thinks about his own privileged socioeconomic status. So it can hardly come as a surprise when he threw himself at a car, claimed that he was “hit” and then embarked on a hunger strike until someone else acknowledged being privileged.

  5. 

    As an alumni I too care about my Alma Mater and the racial strife and I think all students should be heard. You have made excellent, common sense points that some choose to ignore and criticize because they are caught up in the fact that blacks have been discriminated against for centuries and you, as a gay person, are part of a group that has not. How completely absurd especially considering you are probably older than they are and have had more years of experience being personally subjected to discrimination than they have. To them, if you are not black your opinion does not matter. This just proves their “movement” is only about black issues and not really about equality and opportunity for ALL. If there is discrimination on campus it is likely being felt by Asians, Indians, and those of Middle Eastern descent, non-Christians, and students who are LGBT, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the self-centered Concerned Student 1950 with their demands that only those who are black be treated respectfully and that there be a only black quota for staff and that only a totally black diversity board can dictate how diversity training is forced down students throats. Race relations will improve when ALL affected are at the table for a dialogue, not just those that selfishly perceive they are somehow more entitled because their ancestors were slaves. Due to the attitude of Concerned Student 1950, racial relations have been made worse, not better. For the sake of all on the MIZZOU campus I hope they wake up and become more inclusive of all those who have also faced discrimination.

  6. 

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Let’s pause a second and view what really is going on. One individual started his personal agenda to serve conflict and shame to all involved. The individual that should be able to express his concerns. However he has a personal agenda, to cause disturbances, for personal gain. I challenge this individual to rethink his perspective. He perceive that the monitoring is individuals tha are singled out and are disrespected etc. Well Mr. Individual I personal want to challenge you to open your eyes to see the big picture. I know first hand, what it feels like and disconnected with society. Plus have been seen all walks of life make gestures and thier good, bad comments. These all make from all walks of life. I see it daily and these individuals that I speak about do not have the opportunities that you have and have limited abilities to speak their opinions or totally misunderstood. Maybe MU should just decide in the best interest that your studies at MU is a major conflict and request for this individual to purse his graduate studies at a different school.

  7. 

    This post is a text book example of how white privilege blinds you. You stated that you understand how it feels to be ostracized however, it holds no light to the plight African Americans have faced for literally centuries. Your Insensitivity is offensive. And this post has done nothing but reveal how out of reach you are on this issue. This is obvious when you describe the students at your college as diverse wonderful people. How can this be when the same students are throwing racial slurs around and threatening human beings. As an African American students attending a predominately white campus that has the same problems, this address was serverly underwhelming and insincere.

    • 

      Wow…Knock the chip off your shoulder so you can see what’s around you. Your anger is only hurting you and only preventing you from understanding life. Hopefully when you get older you will see life through a clear lens rather than the bitter one you see it through now.

    • 

      The neat well lit prison of one idea … once entered, hard to exit.

    • 

      Ummmm…. gay people have been ostracized themselves in this country similar to black people for centuries. The have been hung. They have been slain. Your facts and blatant disregard for that plight shows how little insight YOU have to the history of this country. African Americans were not the only slaves and, in fact, they were the most well treated across the board because they were worth a lot of money, whereas my ancestors, Irish, we’re inexpensive and viewed as “disposable”. So, they were often the ones being beaten and left for dead if they disobeyed orders.
      Fast forward after slavery, many places of employment posted stating, “Irish need not apply”. Many were forced into dangerous jobs such as bridge building and coal mining where the pay was little and the risk was grave.
      Many people of different backgrounds have had their fit with strife. I in no means beleive that my strife is equal to my ancestors, but neither should you. In this coutry, you are brought with immense oppurtunity, and people such as yourself want to do nothing but marginalize it and destroy it. You come off on this moral high ground where your problems and strife supercede all else. You beleive you cannot be racist even though the definition of racism is someone who believes that their race is either superior or on a higher moral ground. Which people such as yourself fall in the latter catagory.
      Stop being insensitive about others strife and maybe they’ll be more apt not to be as insensitive to yours.

    • 
      we're all tired 12 November 2015 at 1:14 am

      I’m sure a late teen or twenty something person such as yourself knows all about the centuries of suffering. Unless the color of your skin grants you time travel, anyone who has taken a history class knows as much as you about slavery.
      Sorry to say it, but we all get hatred thrown our way. The difference is that some of us learn to deal instead of throwing tantrums. Real change doesn’t happen when someone decides to burn down a convenience store (Ferguson), or stop eating over minor racial matters (Mizzou).
      Real change can happen when we stop holding on to the past. Contrary to popular belief, ranting on about the centuries of oppression only hurts the situation.
      If equality was REALLY on the table, these groups would be including members of all races. Instead, it’s just another attempt to selfishly regard one race over the rest.

    • 

      Youa are an idiot, Tired. You will not succeed in life because of your moronic world view.

    • 

      No such white privilege was shown. Gays too have been persecuted throughout history. No, gays were not sold into slavery as were blacks; however, gays were persecuted by Hitler and homophobic people. Up until recently, no strides were being made to progress the human rights for gays. Gays are targets as well as blacks. It shouldn’t be a competition. Instead you should be understanding his viewpoint and struggles. Collective action proves much more effective than being solitary. This was a typical ignorant comment that we’re ALL tired of seeing. You are the one looking for coddling instead of progress and until then I’m afraid you aren’t going to achieve much of anything

    • 

      Who gave Thom Lambert white privilege?

    • 

      Someone once called me “ginger” while I was travelling through St. Louis. I think the governor should resign for the indignity I had to bear on that horrible day.

      Educated people, like the author here, are not belittling the systemic racism that exists in this country. We’re simply pointing out that, in this case, there was nothing the administration could do to stop drive-by racism; actual minority issues do exist, and are much better served through other methods than the farce which is ripping your campus apart; and finally, grow up. Some people will say mean things to you from time to time. Deal with it an move on.

      Unless you want Mizzou to be the butt-end of a satirical South Park joke, you need to check yourself much more than the author needs to check his white privilege. Otherwise, you’ll wreck yourself. Ice Cube said that.

  8. 

    Hello Professor Lambert,

    Fellow Wheaton College alum (and current 1L, elsewhere). While you raise good arguments, I am disappointed that you focus your disagreement on the reaction, rather than the precipitating cause.

    Casual racism, like casual homophobia or casual sexism, thrives in perceived agreement. The hateful YikYak posters and drive-by slur shouters feel comfortable enough in their racism to espouse it in a public forum.

    When you excuse racism with a ‘boys will be boys’ justification (i.e. “drunken frat boys…”), my concern is that those ‘drunken frat boys’ take that excuse as tacit agreement.

    Racism is too prevalent to take an ‘it goes without saying’ approach. Clearly, there is a strong enough racist contingent on campus that people feel comfortable expressing their racist views. I know I would appreciate if you took this opportunity to publicly stand against it.

    Thank you.

  9. 

    It was not too long ago (2007) that UM students wore buttons that said “I (heart) E Flo”. E Flo was their nickname for Elson Floyd, a black guy from North Carolina, then the president of the UM system. Might be a good idea to remember this before embellishing the extent to which racism (and other negative social attitudes) exist and have existed in campus life at UM.

  10. 

    How refreshing to see such an honest, thorough commentary. Thank you!

  11. 

    Well said, Professor. As I’ve been watching this unfold over the news and social media, the circumstances surrounding this whole affair have continued to baffle me. The alleged incidents that incited this appeared to be isolated acts by unknown individuals, none of whom appeared to be acting with the approval of the University’s administration. As far as the protestors go, I haven’t heard any specific grievances that they have against the University or President Wolfe. Indeed, I haven’t heard that this group even tried to have a productive dialogue with Wolfe or any member of the University’s faculty or administration before choosing to block his car at a parade or engage in this mass protest.

    By all means, if they believe that they have been the targets of discrimination or racism, then their voices should be heard and steps taken to remedy the problem, if one exists. But so far all I’ve seen is an outburst of unreasonable anger and threats directed at an innocent person. Whether or not Wolfe was a good President is beside the point. It’s simply unjust to scapegoat somebody for something he didn’t do.

  12. 

    Professor, as an alum of the University of Missouri School of Law, I am proud of the well-thought out view point you have expressed here. Professors like yourself is just one of the reasons I am proud to be from Mizzou. Well done.

  13. 

    How about a social experiment. Let’s all agree to completely stop using the “N” word. It is a lightning rod for tensions and the cause of most of these incidences. White people, there is no word this insulting in our language regarding race that can be said to you that can make you feel the way a black person feels when called it. Black people, if you can possibly not react to the word you can take away its power.

    • 

      I’m pretty sure that decent people in this country have long agreed to quit using that word. Everybody knows that it’s a hateful slur. At this point, adults who need to be told not to use it are probably the people who won’t listen anyway.

    • 

      I was hoping to see “Black people, you should also stop using it.” But I guess I was wrong to expect it when you said “White people, there is no word this insulting…”. There are white people that had zero connection to slavery or racism. But I guess it is easier to live in a bubble and see the world as black and white.

      As a “white” immigrant, who got a JD recently, I always thought about why are black people called black. I have never seen a black person. I have seen brown people with different shades, almost like starbucks coffee selection, but never a black person. Same thing goes for white people, I have never seen an albino. We are all as different as our shades of skin but it is easier to describe people using 2 colors that are complete opposite of each other.

      • 
        William Hardman 12 November 2015 at 9:41 am

        Black was a term that began to be used in the 1960’s to show that the black race was diametrically different than the white race. At the time it was sued very aggressively and divisively.

    • 

      Most that use that word are of the black race. If you are going to chastise one race from using it, you need to chastise your own as well.

  14. 
    Confused and scared 11 November 2015 at 11:32 am

    Thom, your article was very good. I enjoyed reading it. My main comments would be:
    1) your wording (unintentionally perhaps) seems to suggest that faculty and administrators may have joined in the protests in large numbers. That’s not really accurate. I would be interested in knowing how many actually did. I would venture to say that there were perhaps less than a dozen or two at the most.
    2) there’s no discussion of the victory celebrations/dances after the resignation or the fist salute and victory march around campus saying “power”. It is so ridiculous. Is this really a “win”? Winners don’t rub losers into the ground. They shake hands and go quietly with a word of consolation to the loser. These people have no manners. What do you think innocent white or Asian or miscellaneous races thought about this intimidating behavior?
    3) have truthful disclosures about these “leaders” and their own privileged backgrounds been made yet (by them)?
    4) have the lies told by Peyton Head about the kkk coming to attack been discussed? He’s confessed to the “mistake”. What is his true credibility? Why is he not questioned more actively about his fear-mongering? The fact that he was racially abused is distressing and that needs to be addressed, but a pound for an ounce isn’t the solution. Ask him to read more about Dr. King and Gandhi before he thinks he’s one of them.

  15. 

    Wow. Thom Lambert for president!
    Excellent commentary.

  16. 

    I admire you for being willing to point out the truth.

  17. 

    Speaking as a former MU faculty member, I think you have hit all the points that need to be hit. Progress must be made, but it will not happen overnight. Having campus and university leadership that is not tone deaf will be a big start.

  18. 

    Some of you are entirely too dumb to be commenting here. It should be a prerequisite that you actually have knowledge of what’s happening in Columbia, and the incidents that occurred in particular, before sharing your thoughts.

    If those of you harping on the “drunken frat boy” and “pickup truck” parts had even an iota of understanding about what is taking place at Mizzou, you’d know that the author is referring to the specific events that precipitated the protests.

    Morons.

    • 

      Specific ALLEGED events, Aaron. The student body president lied last night saying the KKK was on campus. Why? Not enough drama yet? Not enough protest and disruption? What else has he lied about? Did he lie about the pickup truck event so as to give himself a platform for a whiny tirade on facebook? The whole campus has bent over backwards to be inclusive with this guy by electing him student body president, homecoming king and all the other activity posts he has occupied. And it seems all he can do is whine and cry in self-pity about exclusion. Even if the alleged racist events with the pickup truck and drunk frat guy did occur they are not in any way probative of “systemic racism” at the university.

      But hey, none of that matters when there’s wanton destruction to be done. Nice going students (and all you non-Mizzou agitators). You have made Mizzou a complete laughing stock and the value of your MU degree has just tanked.

      The author of this piece worries about future minority student and faculty recruitment as a result of all this. What he should be worried about is an abrupt brain drain because many talented and capable people (yes, non-minorities) will avoid Mizzou like the plague. Who could blame them? This once fine university is now gaining the reputation of a lower-tier fun-house for angry imbeciles. A fine legacy indeed for Mizzou’s current generation of students and administrators.

    • 

      Ok, what are the incidents? Let’s hear them. Now.

  19. 

    I have to disagree. These are not adults.

  20. 

    Fair, Honest, and Well Said. Great Read!

  21. 

    Thanks, Thom. Very well said. We need to get back to a “live and let live” culture where “tolerance” goes both ways and we don’t feel the need to micromanage the lives of others, nor bristle with offense at every perceived slight.

  22. 
    bethanybethybeth 11 November 2015 at 8:04 am

    I have been to the law school campus at Mizzou and I thought it was a beautiful school. I wasn’t there when the students were (I was there at a CLE event for the summer) but I found the place to be a very nice version of a college town. As an attorney who misses her days as a student sometimes, it brought back some fond memories.

    That said, I am a black woman. And there was zero diversity. I saw one other black person during the near entire week I was there. I didn’t like it at all. I think that perhaps the schools location, and history are the biggest hurdles to attracting diverse professors. As an alum of Harvard Law, I have many classmates who are now teaching. Honestly, for those of color, Mizzou isn’t on the radar because of these factors. And I agree with you: while the students mean well, Mizzou is probably even less likely to attract diverse qualified applicants for teaching positions. And this incident (protests, etc.) will hurt diversity in the student body. No one with options will go to a school where you expect to be called the n-word by other students. This isn’t normal behavior on college campuses.

    Mizzou is a victim of its environment on this front. It’s too bad; everyone I’ve met who has gone there, and everyone I met while in town was very nice and it sounds like a great place.

    Also, while you state there were three incidents of racial slurs/symbols, I’ve read about at least five (possibly eight) in the media. Given that it is November, it does seem like a lot of incidents over a short period of time. As someone who managed to go to a small conservative Christian school (with few African Americans) in Michigan for four years and never hear a racial slur, I do wonder just what is going on at Mizzou these days…

    • 
      FriendswoodBuddha 11 November 2015 at 8:56 am

      Until the black community quits calling themselves the Nword, including in their music, it will continue to be a part of American culture. Not right, but tolerance needs to take place on all levels.

      • 

        I agree with you totally. When I have black students call each other the N word and I call them out on it, they laugh. When song after song uses the N word, kids love it. We need to get rid of this double standard.

      • 

        Quite simply put, if you are a member of the group, you can say it. If you are not a member of the group, you cannot. When I was young, I remember girls calling each other bitches as a joke and everyone took it as such. But, let a guy walk up and call you a bitch and there was a totally different reaction and it meant something totally different, just as you know the “N” word does when you are not black.

    • 

      bethany: you are no doubt a very intelligent woman and a school such as Harvard would never be on my small radar. I am wonder about your statement: “That said, I am a black woman. And there was zero diversity. I saw one other black person during the near entire week I was there. I didn’t like it at all.”
      I attended a mostly black university to obtain a graduate degree in counseling and, if I had made a similar statement would I be considered a racist or would that be a micro-aggression against POCs….Just wondering.

    • 

      Also, while you state there were three incidents of racial slurs/symbols, I’ve read about at least five (possibly eight) in the media. Given that it is November, it does seem like a lot of incidents over a short period of time. As someone who managed to go to a small conservative Christian school (with few African Americans) in Michigan for four years and never hear a racial slur, I do wonder just what is going on at Mizzou these days…

      It is just a bunch of private individuals being assholes; it has nothing to do with the school.

    • 

      Those who want to make a difference and have a positive impact will come. The ones that come over the next few years ARE the ones we NEED to make improvements. I truly believe all of this is happening for a reason and because it needed to happen.

  23. 

    These people need to get the chip off their shoulder, realize everyone doesn’t have to like you or approve of you and please grow up.

  24. 
    Barb VanPortfleet 11 November 2015 at 6:42 am

    I would like to share something I heard from black students themselves, in the year or so leading up to the 2008 election. A now defunct radio show hosted by a local black pastor routinely received calls from young black men that were attending college/university in the Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, MI, area. To a man, they were perplexed at what they were experiencing. After a lifetime of being told they would be met on campus by a raging sea of racists, they were instead being greeted with acceptance, inclusion and friendship. They didn’t quite know how to ask “why have I been lied to all my life?” But they did ask that question. And the host never answered it.

  25. 

    There is a darker aspect of this unfortunately. Which is exploitation. Whatever the reason, and it probably has to do with the calculated need to keep Democratic base voters fired up and to promote the Democratic party’s racialist agenda, radicals are using isolated racial incidents for propaganda. It does not matter if these incidents are real or not. Ferguson with its false “hands up” narrative is the most egregious example, a national Tawana Brawley hoax. But the whole point of racialism is not justice, but power, coercion and intimidation. Radicals, with the support of the MSM and most perversely the White House, who praised this sorry episode, use trumped up claims of racism as a means of empowerment. If it causes riots or false accusations, or in this case a college president pointlessly losing his job, the mindset is so what. All a means to an end. The message was sent. And if there is no actual evidence of racism, the thoroughly racist/racialist concept of “white privilege”, which values a person’s viewpoint based on skin color and is used to silence dissent (because no one knows what the hell this alleged privilege is anyway), gets trotted out as the next best thing.

    What happened here is that the BLM radicals, who traffic in lies and half-truths, used false or ridiculous claims of racism to seize power and to send a message, they exploited students and football players who were easy to manipulate, and the university cravenly caved. Given the way the media plays this narrative and the way the president endorses it, maybe that was even wise. The political landscape is pretty sick at the moment. But the whole episode is also vile. Not one shred of honesty or decency to be found. These students were made to act like members of the Red Guards.

    • 
      Teaxs Dough Boy 11 November 2015 at 6:49 am

      Well said…. this was an act in the ‘Ferguson way’ to resolve a difference which is accelerated by a feeling of entitlement (built by faulty laws that diluted self-reliance since the Johnson era).

    • 

      I suspect you are correct. But you will never get a journolista to investigate, for that would be indicting the Narrative that 90% of them support.

    • 

      What a sad commentary on the world of tin-foil-hat wearing Fox News viewers.

  26. 

    As we have children approaching college age we have seen the events transpiring at Mizzou and decided to permanently remove that institution from consideration. And honestly, Mizzou is not the only one on the list. As we see more and more campuses afflicted with SJW idiocy and administrative cranial rectosis these colleges and universities are being eliminated from contention as well.

  27. 

    Mizzou is now our newest Historically Black University.

    • 

      What a ridiculous statement. Mizzou didn’t even allow African American students until 1950 – historically they have been racially exclusive longer than inclusive. You can’t just change history.

      • 
        This is 2015 GROW UP 11 November 2015 at 8:28 am

        There we go again, pulling out that race card !!

      • 

        if you are always looking backward you can never go forward. Learn from history. Change from it’s lessons. .

      • 

        So it has been reduced to this.

        In 1950, people protested over official state policy that prevented black students from applying at all.

        Now, they protest about a bunch of private actions that are not the university’s business.

  28. 

    A reasonable view of this unfortunate situation. I wonder if a large(r) group of faculty could rally around a statement like this, to help give perspective. A dozen? A hundred?

  29. 

    I cannot help but to think this could have been headed off by earlier and more sincere involvement by Mr. Wolfe & other university personnel. He failed miserably to lead and thus the students anted upped and he buckled down. He admitted so much as. I could be wrong, but that is what it appears to look like from my viewpoint. Two things for sure, First, Mr. Wolfe will never be employed as the lead negotiator in hostage resolutions. Second, he’s a Missourian at heart – stubborn as hell.

  30. 
    William Tinsley 10 November 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Dr Lambert.
    The faculty member assaulted a student journalist. She really needs to be removed, or at least publically reprimanded.

  31. 
    William Tinsley 10 November 2015 at 8:56 pm

    So well stated.

  32. 

    Good article, although labeling someone as racist based on the descriptors given is not. I find it ironic that at the center of this was a swatztika on a wall (by whom we have no idea). Ironic as I have always been utterly perplexed and disturbed as to how unruly mobs form and committ acts of violence and intimidation, as they see their actions as being on the side of “right”. After watching this video, I now know. I hope a good professor uses this video to show just how dangerous that mentality is.

  33. 

    Double secret probation

  34. 

    Well said. Thank you for summing up a difficult situation.

  35. 

    Dear Thom….I do not live under a rock and I had no clue that people where you work resigned. I do not reside in the U. S. and have not been exposed to your issues. Have you assumed when you did not make yourself aware of all the facts and options? Do you teach your law students to assume also? Maybe it is you who should resign.

    • 

      How about you don’t be a complete dick? That would be worth a shot.

    • 

      Really, Rusty? Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with what has been happening here in Columbia as of late and rescind those last three sentences. Rude.

    • 

      Oh piss off d-bag. After reading such an enlightened and thoughtful offering as is written here THIS is how you respond? You are just another spoiled little twat that needs a good ass-kicking to set you straight. Please refrain from procreating.

  36. 
    Former frat boy 10 November 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Overall, good commentary. With your “drunken frat boy” label you do remind us that even smart people are allowed to say and do dumb things. So, let’s all be not-offended together to make this world a better place!

    • 

      i agree good read but why the frat boy and pickup truck reference…just shows we all have preconceived stereotypes

      • 
        bethanybethybeth 11 November 2015 at 7:52 am

        I think he is using those as examples because they were cited by national media as events that occurred on campus.

    • 

      I am not a former frat boy, but I too could not help but think Thom, in making your point you singled out a group and made a derogatory generalized statement. Minimized the overall message….

  37. 

    A patronizing and pedantic lecture from a person who is unaware of the world.

    • 

      In what way is the professor unaware of the world?

    • 

      Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    • 

      Good God; man writes a thoughtful retort to days of insanity and this is what you have to offer to the discussion? Did you even finish high school you mental midget? Please, do us all a favor and slice your genitalia to ribbons to insure your particular brand of dipshittery is never spread beyond the shell of your cranium.

    • 

      There was nothing patronizing OR pedantic about this; you are a little pussy and need to have your ass kicked to the point of you begging for your life, dipshit. I’ll be happy to fill this role.

      PS: when did you little twats all leach on to the word ‘pedantic’? In 44 years I heard this word maybe three times prior to last year. Now it is ubiquitous. Another reason to hate your worthless d-bag generation and the parents that screwed you up.

      • 

        It was used in a Big Bang Theory episode a few seasons back. I suspect you can trace its sudden popularity to that moment.

        Kicking somebody’s ass, etc, isn’t likely to inhibit the practice.

  38. 

    Thank you for this heartfelt, well reasoned letter. No matter what your take on the events of this past week, we need to move on in a positive manner for the benefit of everyone.

  39. 

    This is a very rational article… Unless you are a frat boy, Christian or drive a truck…then you’re racists. Geesh.

  40. 

    Very well written!! Thank you!

  41. 

    The president of the 35,000 strong student body who alleged one of the incidents is black AND gay yet he claims to feel marginalised? He’s the president of the student body! They elected a gay black man to be their leader! Yet white men are yelling racial epithets from the backs of trucks in the middle of campus? Who draws on walls with poo? Where are the pictures and video? Everyone has a camera. Any other witnesses to the racial slurs? I think it’s all mass hysteria.

    • 

      Yes, JM, it is mass hysteria. There are no witnesses to two of the alleged racial incidents. That same student body president is from a black “privileged” family. Marginalized” Mizzou students were threatening in September over social media to “dismantle the white man.” They have succeeded on two accounts with the university president and chancellor. The alumni association announced today they’re reinstituting a “black alumni association.” Students have been instructed to call 911 should they get their feelings hurt. There are death threats on campus and my two students are scared shitless. This has been carefully scripted by the same morons that produced and destroyed Ferguson. This is out of control because the know-it-all elite academians at Mizzou thought they had the answer…how wrong they were.

  42. 

    Being a former “frat boy” and current owner of a diesel pickup, why do you castigate people like myself? Are the racial insults coming only from truck driving frat boys? You make it sound that way. Otherwise a nice viewpoint of what is happening there.

    • 

      He was citing the events that occurred within the past couple of months to begin this situation. Jumping to conclusions as if you were being personally attacked will not help the situation.

  43. 

    What about the man who went on the hunger strike and demanded the President to confess his “white male privilege”. It has been reported that the hunger striker has privilege since his father is wealthy–has millions of dollars.What say you?

  44. 

    I agree with you, however I completely disagree with your assumption that all “frat boys” are drunk racists. I know many wonderfully, talented, leaders who are fraternity brothers, who are philanthropic, who are intelligent, who come together to make each other better, who continue to utilize the network of professionals they met in college. It’s funny, you insult another group of individuals while trying to bring calm and rational discussion that boasts of inclusion. College is a place of learning, of growing, of messing up. It may have not been a “drunken frat boy” but just a drunken boy who said mean things.

    • 

      at no point did the author say or imply that “all” frat boys are “drunk racists,” just that there are instances of that happening. and if you’re as familiar with greek life as you claim to be, you’re 100% aware that there are a number of frat boys who do tend to be more than a bit racist, especially after knocking back a few. nice attempt at twisting his words to fit your narrative, but try again. it’s funny that you’re doing the exact same thing that you’re pretending to be outraged by. get real.

      • 

        #1. Show me proof that these “Drunken frat boys” are in a fraternity? I have not seen the media covering these young men and what fraternity they were in. I’d love to read the story. So, In my opinion when you write “Drunken frat boys are occasionally going to say ugly things.” you actually are inadvertently implying to the reader that all fraternity men are drunk idiots. #2 I am quite familiar with the greek system, but I don’t need to prove this to you. You also know that many college students from all walks of life tend to be a bit more boisterous after knocking back a few – not just our young fraternity men. I’ve seen quite a few GDIs who are quite opinionated. Everyone’s offended by something, and it’s ok. I was not offended by the author’s choice of words – just disappointed because I’ve seen the positive things that the greek system can provide and I have a right to speak my mind. You can choose to be offended or disagree and it’s ok.

  45. 

    It is highly unlikely that Concerned Student 1950’s demand that the percentage of black faculty and staff at Mizzou be raised to 10% by 2017-18 can be implemented in a manner consistent with constitutional obligations. You should know that.

    Sorry but there’s still lots of room for more diversity officers and gender studies profs.

  46. 

    Fair. Being on campus right now, it’s refreshing to hear a reasonable, informed voice. It seems so many are afraid of seeming racist if they don’t fully support every action taken and decision made.

  47. 

    Professor, what are the ramifications to the two Professors that violated the First Amendment Rights of the reporter attempting to capture yesterday’s events?

    Suspension, termination? Will their actions go unpunished because they were supporting the progressive cause? Will they be held accountable?

    • 

      I could be wrong here, but I’m not so sure the professor and administrator can be said to have violated the reporter’s First Amendment rights unless their action can deemed state action. Obviously their connection to a public university cuts in favor of state action, as does the professor’s express statement that she is a professor and the fact that each were on University property during school hours. On the other hand, each was arguably acting in their individual capacity as a member of the protests and not as University personnel. I believe the Court has overall taken a narrow view of state action vis a vis the First Amendment, such that it could be difficult to add up enough factors to classify this as state action. Again, I’m not a First Amendment scholar, so take this analysis with a grain of salt.

      All that said, the state action analysis only really matters if we are talking about a claim by the reporter that his 1A rights were violated and he brings suit. That’s clearly unlikely given his statements. What is more likely, and I think what you were more curious about, is whether their actions can lead to discipline. I would think either faculty handbooks or their individual contracts could provide the University with grounds to terminate/suspend their employment (after administrative due process). If nothing else, they certainly do not appear to be acting in a professional manner.

      • 

        “I could be wrong here”. You are. You are parsing court decisions rather than taking the First Amendment into regard.

        This is demonstrated further by your speculation that there would be any doubt that a university professor using her status and inherent respect as a faculty member to direct and encourage students she sympathized with to take action to censor media coverage in violation of the First Amendment. And no, a civil suit isn’t the only possibility of such a test, either. Not likely? Perhaps so, but that’s not the only possibility when it comes to violations of the Bill of Rights. That you are so confident that a civil suit is the only possibility of redress only points up at how anemic the defense of the Bill of Rights has become.

        However, just because you are right that a civil suit is the only way that press members would likely be granted relief for the blatant act of censorship, doesn’t mean that the faculty members are in the clear. For one thing, if the University does not take action to address the acts of those faculty members, the University itself becomes open to action, since they did nothing about their faculty’s civil rights violations. While suing the professors themselves might not tempt many lawyers, if they leave themselves open to action, expect that the minority student-journalist’s phone will be figuratively be ringing off the hook. Universities are viewed as having very deep pockets, especially those with sports teams wanting to contend on the national level.

        In the end, the most encouraging thing is that the Professor running this blog probably has the intelligence and integrity to let the ignorant statements by you, me, and others stand, whether he agrees with them, or not. The professor in the spotlight? I doubt she would hesitate for a second to delete comments on her blog, if she disagreed with them, and could not counter them in such a way that she would find to be useful. That, of course, would /not be a violation of the First Amendment – but it’s still a bloody bad example for an educator to set for their students. Despite her actions to the contrary, the ends don’t justify the means, especially if the ends she had in mind are not the only ends that will result.

        While I dislike stating that anyone should lose a job over something they said, in this case, I’m not comfortable with her and teachers like her teaching students that the Bill of Rights ceases to be important, when it gets in the was of das kampf.

        As for the students who participated in said censorship? They should have to take remedial Civics classes until they get it through their thick skulls that they cannot decide who has which right, and who does night. Rights don’t work that way.

      • 

        I’m a little confused as to why you feel the need to attempt to aggressively pick apart my comment. You actually appear to largely agree with me.

        In terms of my alleged failure to “tak[e] the First Amendment into regard” and reliance upon Court decisions, Court decisions are what define the contours of the Bill of Rights. Without them, we would be left with the text of the First Amendment, which would be much less sympathetic to your cause and textually speaks only in terms of prohibited legislation: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I, for one, am glad that the Court has not so limited the First Amendment (or the entire BoR for that matter) to its text.

        Also, despite your repeated assertions, I specifically and expressly mentioned more than just a civil suit as a remedy. I stated that the faculty member and staff member likely failed in their respective positions and could face discipline from the University. Whether the University couches their misdeeds as constitutional violations or lack of professionalism, etc., there certainly appears to be grounds for University action. I merely questioned whether what the faculty/staff members did rises to the level of a First Amendment violation. But again, whatever that outcome, they were in the wrong and likely can/should be punished.

        Lastly, I acknowledged that even in the civil suit context the actions of the faculty and staff member could constitute state action. I said it is an aspect of this that would need to be analyzed and that there are some facts that cut in favor of private action. Forgive me for pointing out a technical legal issue on the blog of a law professor. And that analysis would still need to be completed before one could sue the University under an agency theory as you mention.

        As to your discussion of how rights legally work, I think we may disagree there. The Bill of Rights is primarily only implicated by state action. If I kick you out of my house because I don’t like what you say, what religion you practice, the photos you take of me, etc., you have no recourse (except maybe in tort if it rises to assault/battery). If your statement is more general that we should morally respect others based on concepts embedded into the Bill of Rights, I could not agree more. But that wasn’t my point.

  48. 

    Absolutely perfect reflection and very fair to all sides!

  49. 

    A strong, generous, foresighted statement. Chuck Howe, Colorado.

  50. 

    Thank you for posting this when people who want to give a response to the events going on that is not entirely in support of everything the protesters have been doing and saying, are feeling intimidated to do so. The behind-the-scenes discussions need to come to light; hopefully this will be one step in that direction. – Law student and Mizzou employee.

  51. 
    Former MU Fraternity Student 10 November 2015 at 1:06 pm

    “Drunken frat boys are occasionally going to say ugly things.” What an incredibly stupid thing to say. I hope no one affiliated in the Greek system gets offended and goes on a hunger strike. You should probably resign.

    • 

      I’m assuming this was in jest. But I’m pretty sure that factually they know that the person who yelled was in fact drunk, in a frat, and a boy. The rest was kind of a defense to not condemn all greeks.

      • 

        Huh?!? You may not get out much, but there has been a concerted effort to greatly diminish and even terminate Greek Life on campuses all across the country. if “they (or anyone) factually know” who yelled racial slurs (there is reason to doubt it even happened, since some of the “1950s” group emanate from the Ferguson hoax), they would immediately be arrested, and the house would immediately have its charter pulled by the University and by its National Leadership.

        So I suggest you re-examine that which you are so sure of, reality would suggest you know very little about that incident. And for Thom Lambert, I would suggest asking for a proof-reader…they may have suggested that the last sentence’s proclamation that “you’re adults, and should be treated as such” is greatly discredited when earlier incriminating “drunken frat boys”.

    • 

      This is exactly what I thought about the “drunken frat boy” comment. I’m not even a frat person! But, I found that to be offensive too.

      • 

        … And, heaven forbid, you drive a truck. Or went to a Christian school…

      • 

        Well then this person should be immedietly fired because you are butt-hurt. Freedom of speech? The author was referring to an incident that happened, not personally attacking your whiny ass

    • 
      Former MU Dormie 10 November 2015 at 3:02 pm

      He was talking about members of FarmHouse, or Alpha Gamm Rho, The Kappa Alphas would just shoot them with their cannon.

      • 

        The KA cannon blew up and was removed while I was in law school at MU. That story in itself provided a few days of dark humor and head shaking – and scared the hell out of a few Chinese students who were in the path of some shrapnel.

  52. 

    Professor, this is a wise and thoughtful dissertation. The University and its students need to hear more voices like yours.

  53. 

    Thank you for a well-balanced analysis. I couldn’t agree with you more. We appreciate your leadership, Professor.

  54. 

    Well said; nothing to add to this excellent reflection

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