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    Posted on Sep 17, 2015

    An Open Letter To Mizzou From A Black Fed-Up Alumna

    The jig is up.

    Mizzou Magazine / Via mizzoumagarchives.missouri.edu

    Dear Mizzou,

    Since you only listen to stories on national media, here it goes.

    While at the University, I had an amazing four years. From running through the columns for Tiger Stripe ice cream to getting Shakespeare's Pizza virtually every day with my best friends for lunch. There are so many great memories that I have and will always appreciate but it's becoming harder and harder for me to say that I am a PROUD Missouri Tiger.

    I can recognize the great things that the university has done but I am not going to cover up the flaws and insincerity that is the MU administration.

    This is NOT a letter about a specific incident on campus.

    It's about the administration and your lack of care for current students that's been going on for decades. Mizzou is a business and does not care whether you're Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Queer, Native American or anything in-between. You only cater to the Green - and the majority of that green is in the pockets of rich, White male alumni.

    I'm fed up.

    First, let's give an extremely brief history lesson because you seem to forget this when students are talking about division on campus.

    Mizzou was founded in 1839. Although slavery had officially been abolished in 1865 and Missouri enacted "separate but equal" clauses, the first Black student wasn't admitted until 1950.

    It took over 100 years, Lloyd Gaines' mysterious disappearance, NAACP suits, Lucille Bluford, petitions and Supreme Court rulings to let a Black student study at the University that I call my alma mater.

    Our school still has buildings and streets named after slave-owners with no acknowledgment of its history.

    Aside from this, you didn't welcome international students and abolish sexist dress policies for women until 1966.

    "Dixie" was sang and the Confederate flag were waved at football games until 1968.

    The "Confederate Rock" wasn't moved from campus until 1974 (but still sits proudly in front of Boone County's Courthouse).

    In the Border War, you were on the wrong side for progressiveness and equality.

    If you'd like to learn more about your unsung history that you don't broadcast, here is a link. Maybe this will come in handy for your next "Open Forum" discussion, Chancellor Loftin.

    https://diversity.missouri.edu/timeline/

    Your history is an ugly one even up until recently with cotton balls being strewn across the lawn of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center and the "N-word" being plastered on the side of one of your residence halls - which I stayed in as a freshman and sophomore.

    But as I stated earlier, this is a letter geared towards your administration. Mizzou is just a business focused on PR and nothing else. When Chancellor Loftin made his adjustments, he changed the hierarchy and moved his public relations team right up to the top, knocking student and academic centered offices like MSA and ARS even further down on the totem pole. But I must admit, you guys do an excellent job of making students think that their voice matters and pacifying situations but the jig is up.

    A week ago, YOUR MSA president wrote a heartfelt post about his latest experience at Mizzou and it received no attention outside of our community. All was well. But after over 1,000 shares, an article in the Washington Post and national attention, it required a response. Mind you, the article was not shared by your administrators or commented on directly. And the Chancellor tried especially hard to not make it only about the President but about "recurring" incidents around campus. I see what you did there but it's not working this time. You know that they're recurring because students have been confiding and putting their faith in you for change for over a year now. The jig is up.

    You claim to be supportive of students and disregard discrimination when you just tried to cut insurance for grad students. Thankfully, enough negative press changed your mind about that. The jig is up.

    You claim to be supportive of students and disregard discrimination but for a political and financial move, you cut a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood. You have a Women's Center downstairs to support women's issues but because of donors being concerned, you cut ties with Planned Parenthood? I'm confused and I think you are too. The jig is up.

    Last year, you had hoards of students coming up to you begging for change. My mentor asked me to address the Chancellor specifically about keeping diversity programs in place - at a formal event honoring students and faculty making strides in diversity - and I was given a business card and told to follow him on social media. After a student organization inspired by the murder of unarmed black and brown bodies addressed your lack of concern for students, you held a few "open forums" where you gave students the run-around and told them what they wanted to hear to keep us silent for some time. The jig is up.

    The well-being of students is not anyone in that institution's concern. You can't keep catering to Daddy Warbucks' pockets because as you graduate more and more diverse students, their pockets add up and that money that you're receiving right now will only last so long. The jig is up.

    I know deep down that these current students will not be content and will not be wooed by your gold name tags, soft-shell jackets and selfies without a real change being made. So, if I were you, I'd take these students very seriously and listen to their requests and their voices. Believe it or not, it's going to get bigger than the Washington Post if you don't change your reactive stance to a proactive one. The jig is up.

    Sincerely,

    Jazmin M. Burrell

    A Black Fed-Up Alumna

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