The University of Missouri (MU) is closing two additional dormitories following a massive enrollment decline that follows a wave of race-related protests at the school. The school has now shut down four entire residence halls in response to a sharp decline in the number of students who want to attend the school.
The shuttering of Respect and Excellence residence halls, which together can house about 315 students, is just the latest sign of a severe institutional crisis at MU in the months after it forced out its president in response to the demands of protesters. In January, the school saw a drop in applications of about 5 percent. In February, the school admitted racial strife had imperiled its credit rating. In March, the school admitted it was anticipating a budget shortfall of $32 million, thanks to an expected loss of 1500 undergraduate students next year, including 900 fewer freshmen.
In addition to Respect and Excellence, MU had previously announced that it would be closing Laws and Lathrop halls. While the staff assigned to those buildings had been told their jobs would be protected, there is no guarantee for those affected by the new closures, The Maneater reported.
School spokesman Christian Basi said in a statement the closures were a necessary cost-cutting measure, as it is cheaper for the school to close entire halls rather than partially fill of them.
The school’s bad fortune can be easily traced to the fall of 2015, when the group Concerned Student 1950 began rocking the school with a wave of protests complaining that school administrators were not doing enough to control a racially hostile environment. MU president Tim Wolfe was forced out of office after black players on the school’s football team went on strike. R. Bowen Loftin, the chancellor of the flagship Columbia campus, stepped down as well.
The school also drew negative national attention when communications professor Melissa Click attacked a student journalist covering the campus protesters, claiming he had no right to film the public demonstrations and calling for “muscle” to take him away. Click was fired by the university in February.
While MU continues to appeal to native Missourians, for whom it is the state’s flagship school, the student decline has been driven by a massive loss of interest from those living out of state, who have apparently decided to look elsewhere for a school to attend.
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