(Members of the Legion of Black Collegians and the Concerned Student 1950 supporters gather Saturday after a protest on campus. Photo Credit: Ellise Verheyen / AP)
White House Spokesman Josh Earnest defended student and faculty protestors at the University of Missouri during a press briefing Monday, praising them for their “commitment to unity and equality and justice” following campus-wide rallies against alleged racism at the university.
Mizzou has been rocked by a slew of protests over the past several months over complaints of racism and anti-Semitism at the university. The issue began when a black student complained on Twitter that he’d been the target of racial slurs shouted at him on campus, followed by complaints from other black students over reports of racist name-calling as well as a swastika being painted in human feces on a dorm bathroom wall.
The protests eventually escalated into a campus-wide outcry from students, the football team and faculty members, finally culminating in the resignation of the university president, Tim Wolfe, on Monday.
During Monday’s press briefing, Earnest defended the protestors, saying:
I think what is notable about many of the events we saw over the weekend is the way that that campus has really rallied together in support of the idea that every student that is admitted to the University of Missouri has a place on that campus and in that community. And that commitment to unity and equality and justice is one that I think the people of Missouri and certainly the Mizzou community can be proud of.
But you don’t get that result, the result of every student on campus feeling like they have a place, by just hoping that it will happen. It requires work. It requires painstaking effort. And I think what we’ve seen is a commitment on the part of so many people, different members of that community, to pursue that goal. And that’s a really important thing.
Earnest later added:
That unity of purpose is not going to be enough. It’s going to be hard to work to eventually achieve this goal, of making sure that it’s clear that every member of that community has a rightful place there to be a contributor to that community, to feel at home there. And there’s work that needs to be done.
Watch the rest of Earnest's comments in the video:
Wolfe stepped down on Monday after students and faculty publicly called for his resignation, alleging he hadn’t done enough to combat racism on campus. On Oct. 20, an organization known as “Concerned Student 1-9-5-0,” penned a “list of demands” addressed to the university, including calls for Wolfe to write a “handwritten apology” in which he acknowledges his “white male privilege” and “recognize[s] that systems of oppression exist.”