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University of Missouri Feels ‘Weight of the World's Eyes'

  • VOA News

University of Missouri-Columbia campus, showing Jesse Hall and the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle behind it, and Stankowski Field.

University of Missouri-Columbia campus, showing Jesse Hall and the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle behind it, and Stankowski Field.

Tensions continue to run high on the University of Missouri's Columbia campus, where the president and chancellor were forced to resign two days ago over their handling of racial incidents on the campus.

Reports on Twitter said people were using racial epithets as they drove around the school, known affectionately as Mizzou. There were few pedestrians as many students stayed away from campus Wednesday, amid an increased police presence.

"Our campus has experienced significant turbulence, and many within our community have suffered threats against their lives and humanity. These threats are reprehensible," wrote the newly appointed interim campus leadership in a statement.

The statement offered additional counseling and continued, "For those of you who are discouraged, we hope you will see what we have seen in the last 15 months and especially in the last few weeks. We have watched faculty, many of whom have great expertise in social justice, act with extraordinary compassion to our students...we have witnessed our brave students who sacrificed their own needs to do work that should have been done long before they joined our community."

Meanwhile, police arrested a second college student for making online threats against black people.

Police picked up 19-year-old Connor Stottlemyre mid-day on Wednesday on the Maryville campus of Northwest Missouri State University.

Stottlemyre allegedly posted a threat on the online app Yik Yak that allows users to hold anonymous conversations within an 8-kilometer radius. It read, "I'm going to shoot any black people tomorrow," University spokesman Mark Hornickel told USA Today.

Hunter Park, 20, was taken into custody overnight for expressing similar sentiments on Yik Yak. Park is a sophomore at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.

In the wake of the arrests, Mizzou's online emergency information center tweeted, "There is no immediate threat to campus."

University of Missouri student protesters, led by a group called Concerned Student 1950 -- a reference to the year the university first admitted black students -- block access to Mel Carnahan quad on the campus in Columbia, Missouri, Nov. 9, 2015.

University of Missouri student protesters, led by a group called Concerned Student 1950 -- a reference to the year the university first admitted black students -- block access to Mel Carnahan quad on the campus in Columbia, Missouri, Nov. 9, 2015.

Tumultuous week

It has been a tumultuous week for the University of Missouri system's flagship campus, which has a student enrollment of more than 35,000.

On Monday, the university system's president and the Columbia campus' chancellor resigned over what protesters saw as indifference to racial issues at the school, which included racial slurs yelled at African American students, including the Missouri Students Association president, and a swastika drawn with human feces at a residence hall.

University of Missouri communications professor Melissa Click is seen in a screenshot from a video shot by University of Missouri student photographer Mark Schierbecker, telling the photographer he "needs to go" and can't videotape the student protesters.

University of Missouri communications professor Melissa Click is seen in a screenshot from a video shot by University of Missouri student photographer Mark Schierbecker, telling the photographer he "needs to go" and can't videotape the student protesters.

Student protesters led by a group called Concerned Student 1950 -- a reference to the year the university first admitted black students -- were behind the ouster of the leaders.

Some students, faculty and alumni have said the protests and top leaders' resignations are the culmination of years of racial tension. The university has promised changes.

Chuck Henson, a black law professor and associate dean, was appointed Tuesday as the university's first-ever interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity. Henson is one of the leadership trio that issued Wednesday's statement, which pledged, "We feel the weight of the world’s eyes upon us. We will not flinch from the work ahead."

The Columbia campus has many notable alumni, including Walmart founder Sam Walton; actors George C. Scott, Brad Pitt and Jon Hamm; singer Sheryl Crow; journalists Gerald Boyd, Jim Lehrer and Chuck Roberts, politicians Jay Nixon, Claire McCaskill and Tim Kaine; playwright Tennessee Williams, and the first openly gay NFL football player, Michael Sam.

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