As expected, the Obama administration jumped at the opportunity to promote its social justice agenda Monday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest praising the racial activist protestors who forced the resignation of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe Monday for failing to adequately address "white privilege" on the campus.
In a press conference Monday, Earnest correctly described the activists at Missouri—which included a black student group, one student who went on a hunger strike, half the Mizzou football team and their high-salaried coach—as carrying on the legacy of President Obama.
"I think this also illustrates something that the president talked a lot about in the context of – in his campaign, that a few people speaking up and speaking out can have a profound impact on the communities where we live and work," said Earnest.
"That’s the kind of dialogue and work and unity that the Mizzou community is going to need to make progress on this issue."
Press Sec. Josh Earnest
Commending them for their "courage," Earnest urged the social justice activists in Missouri to keep the momentum going and suggested Wolfe's resignation and the university's response to the protests was a sign of "progress."
"That’s the kind of dialogue and work and unity that the Mizzou community is going to need to make progress on this issue," he said. The press secretary made clear that he agreed with the activists' contention that there was "a culture of racism" on the campus, saying, “I think any state institution is a product of the state and that state’s history and there’s a very painful history – and it’s not ancient history in the state of Missouri."
Here is the complete list of demands issued to the university by the University of Missouri protest group "Concerned Student 1950," which include the president adequately acknowledging "his white male privilege" and the "systems of oppression" in the university, the implementation of a race-based quota system that would increase the black faculty and staff to 10% by the year 2017-18, the implementation of a campus-wide mandatory "racial awareness and inclusion curriculum" created and overseen by "students, staff, and faculty of color," and to "increase retention rates for marginalized students":
I. We demand that the University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a handwritten apology to the Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white male privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exist, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demands. We want Tim Wolfe to admit to his gross negligence, allowing his driver to hit one of the demonstrators, consenting to the physical violence of bystanders, and lastly refusing to intervene when Columbia Police Department used excessive force with demonstrators.
II. We demand the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe as UM system president. After his removal a new amendment to UM system policies must be established to have all future UM system president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.
III. We demand that the University of Missouri meets the Legion of Black Collegians' demands that were presented in 1969 for the betterment of the black community.
IV. We demand that the University of Missouri creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and administration. This curriculum must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff, and faculty of color.
V. We demand that by the academic year 2017-2018, the University of Missouri increases the percentage of black faculty and staff campus-wide to 10%.
VI. We demand that the University of Missouri composes a strategic 10 year plan by May 1, 2016 that will increase retention rates for marginalized students, sustain diversity curriculum and training, and promote a more safe and inclusive campus.
VII. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals — particularly those of color, boosting mental health outreach and programming across campus, increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility of the counseling center, and reducing lengthy wait times for prospective clients.
VIII. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources, and personnel for the social justices centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus, and increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility.