The University of Missouri became a hot topic among news outlets in 2015 as a broader public conversation on toxic learning environments for students of color took place on university campuses across the country. The hashtag #StandWithMizzou was trending with support from across the country as students complained about the racism and xenophobia that existed on their college campuses.
Two years have passed since the initial protests, but the school is not done with its problems. The New York Times reported that freshmen enrollment on its main Columbia campus has dropped more than 35 percent in the past two years.
The university administration acknowledged the main reason for the severe issues is due to the events in 2015. Parents see the school as either breeding a culture of racism or one in which student protests go unchecked.
“The general consensus was that it was because of the aftermath of what happened in November 2015,” Mun Choi, the new system president, told The New York Times. “There were students from both in state and out of state that just did not apply, or those who did apply but decided not to attend.”
Mizzou has suffered budget cuts due to loss of students’ tuition and a decline in state funding. It’s temporarily closing seven dorms, cutting more than 400 positions, including those of non-tenured faculty members, and leaving open jobs unfilled.
The drop in freshmen enrollment last year was incredibly high among Black students, at 42 percent. While Black people were already a small percentage at the predominantly white institution (PWI), they’ve continued to drop in numbers. They went from 10 percent of the freshmen class in 2012 to 6 percent this past fall.
Even in-state students with generations of family members who have attended have chosen to go to out of state schools that offer preferential tuition or scholarships to Missouri students. Some faculty have also credited it to the fact that Mizzou is so close to Ferguson, which also made national news with the murder of Michael Brown. As pointed out to the NYT, by plant science professor, Craig Roberts, Mizzou wasn’t made a point of contention because it was more racist than other places, but because it inspired anger that was brewing on other campuses across the country to boil over.
PWIs, take note — protect your students of color.