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Missouri president resigns following protests

Wolfe said in a speech on Monday that he was resigning because immediate change needed to happen to resolve anger and frustration on campus.

Protests intensified when a graduate student began a hunger strike on Nov. 2.

On Saturday, about 30 Missouri football players decided to stand along with other student demonstrators by refusing to participate in any football activities. They were joined Sunday by Gary Pinkel, the head coach, who tweeted, “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.”

Neither the university nor the Legion of Black Collegians, which organized protests, responded to requests for comment.

Vishal Reddy, co-president of the Campus Y at UNC, said he was impressed by how quickly the student groups effected change.

“I think it’s a testament to the organizers at Missouri in what they were able to achieve,” he said.

Reddy said university officials need to do more than just react to drive social change.

“At the University of Missouri you sort of see how the president was forced to step down for not being reactive to certain instances that happen on college campuses, but I think there needs to be (more proactivity) coming from the university and administrators across the country,” Reddy said.

Reddy said UNC’s student-athletes stepped into a role similar to the Missouri players in the 1990s.

“A similar situation happened at UNC with the formation of the (Sonja Haynes Stone Center). There were a couple student-athletes who sort of elevated that movement and took it to the next level. That shows that to achieve quick, effective change you need a broad coalition of students and not students that are typically involved in organizing movements, and you can reach them and tap into those,” he said.

UNC’s new system president-elect, Margaret Spellings, was criticized by members of the University community when she referred to LGBT peoples’ sexualities as “lifestyles” on Oct. 23.

Reddy said the Spellings statement comes with more weight due to some of her previous actions toward LGBT people. He said she has a history of unawareness with LGBT issues, including interfering with PBS programming that included LGBT individuals when she was Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush.

Reddy said the UNC-system president position is more powerful than most people think.

Steve Kirschner, spokesperson for the UNC Department of Athletics, said UNC athletes are encouraged to be active in campus and social issues.

“I like the fact that Missouri stood behind its students,” he said.

In the past year, UNC has seen student-led protests to rename Saunders Hall and to get rid of the Silent Sam statue on McCorkle Place.

Kirschner said he hopes UNC’s administrators and students keep up a dialogue so that conflict doesn’t become too tense, regardless of the issue.

“Before a situation got to the point at where it got at Missouri, you would hope that those lines of communication would allow you to kind of move forward without students feeling like they had to take sort of the drastic step of what happened at Missouri,” Kirschner said.

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