An ad hoc committee at the University of Missouri has concluded that the school could have avoided its still-reverberating nationwide humiliation stemming from last semester’s eruption of Black Lives Matter protests if officials would have enforced a policy that has been in existence for decades.
The November protests attracted national attention after graduate student Jonathan Butler, the son of a millionaire railroad executive, went on a hunger strike and convinced 32 Mizzou football players to boycott all team activities. There were false reports of people wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods. There was a poop swastika. The protest also included a now-fired professor, Melissa Click, who threatened a student cameraman with mob violence.
A few hundred aggressive and enthusiastic demonstrators occupied a highly visible quad for about a week. They camped in tents and mobilized marches from this occupied space, which served as a hub for fomenting unrest.
Turns out, Mizzou has a 67-year-old policy that explicitly prevents students from camping out on campus overnight.
The rule, which has been on the books since 1949, doesn’t specifically mention tents, but it does prohibit the creation of any unapproved “bedroom or living room” on campus, reports The Kansas City Star.
The intent of the 1949 policy was — and is — to make sure that students are sleeping under a safe, permanent roof.
Mizzou “has had a prohibition on overnight sleeping on campus for years,” committee member Bob Jerry, a law professor, told the Star. “There is a health and safety concern.”
Had taxpayer-funded school officials enforced the policy, the ad hoc committee has concluded, the protest likely would never have gained its incredible momentum.
Mizzou’s police chief, Doug Schwandt, announced on a local news talk radio station last week that campus cops will now start enforcing the 1949 law, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Schwandt blamed school officials for allowing the protesters — who have called themselves Concerned Student 1950 — to camp for a week on the public university’s Carnahan Quadrangle. He said he was not privy to any administrative discussions about the protests as they occurred.
“I doubt there’d be approval to allow overnight camping again on campus,” the campus police chief observed, according to the Tribune.
In the event of future encampments, Schwandt said, Mizzou cops could give tickets to or arrest people who refuse to follow police orders to leave. The basis for the tickets or arrests would be either trespassing or disturbing the peace. (RELATED: Ohio State Swiftly Ends Students’ ‘Occupation’ With Promises Of Arrest, Expulsion)
Schwandt is a member of the ad hoc committee, which will make its full, final recommendations to high-level administrators in coming days.
The full name of the committee is the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Protests, Public Spaces, Free Speech, and the Press. The committee’s goal is to set policy concerning how the school should maintain safe and accessible public spaces while simultaneously respecting First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly.
Members of Concerned Student 1950 — so named because the first black student matriculated at Mizzou in 1950 — refused to comment about the ad hoc committee’s recommendations, according to the Tribune.
Emails from the University of Missouri’s computer network obtained by HeatStreet show that the activists who led last semester’s protests demanded generators and a fire pit to keep themselves warm and cozy as they camped in tents during chilly November nights. (RELATED: Mizzou Black Activists Demanded A TOASTY FIRE PIT As They Protested Poop Swastika)
“I very much appreciate our students and their right to protest but they are right now killing grass and putting stakes in the ground where we have underground sprinkler system. No other group or individual have been allowed to set up home on our quad,” Gary Ward, vice chancellor for operations, wrote.
Former chancellor R. Bowen Loftin — who enjoyed a sweet, taxpayer-funded 459,000-per-year salary — nevertheless exhorted school officials to “handle power by providing a generator” or “access to more power from campus.”
The Mizzou protests centered largely on Butler, the wealthy graduate student. He went on a six-day hunger strike at the beginning of November. Butler’s goal, which he achieved, was to force then-MU system president Tim Wolfe to resign. Butler scored a political coup when he convinced the 32 Mizzou football players to pledge to boycott all team activities until Wolfe quit his job. (Ultimately, the team missed a single practice.) (RELATED: University Of Missouri Football Players BOYCOTT FOOTBALL Over Black Activist’s Hunger Strike)
In a letter to school officials posted (but no longer visible) on his Facebook page, Butler indicated that he began his hunger strike because someone in a pickup truck allegedly shouted a racist insult at a black student government member, because state law prevents Planned Parenthood from performing on-campus abortions and because someone drew a swastika with human feces in a dormitory bathroom. (RELATED: The Biggest, Dumbest Race Hoaxes And Fake Hate Crimes On Campus In 2015)
Click, the fired professor, threatened a student cameraman with mob violence for attempting to cover on-campus protests. She also embarrassed herself by yelling like a spoiled child at the homecoming parade. (RELATED: Newly-Surfaced Video Shows Melissa Click Yelling LIKE AN UNHINGED LUNATIC At Cops)
Applications for the fall 2016 academic year are down considerably at the University of Missouri. (RELATED: SURPRISE! Mizzou Sees Application Drop After Days Of Protests, Illusory Klan Hoods, Poop Swastika)