Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

Allowing Avenues for Racial Dialogue in a Non-confrontational Manner

Missouri State University

Missouri State University President Clif Smart calls the initial reactions stemming from a silent protest over homecoming “disappointing.” But what has emerged since then has been encouraging to the growth of the campus climate, he says.

The October 18 demonstration featured roughly 30 predominantly African American students carrying signs depicting racial issues on campus.  

“Unfortunately a handful of people did apparently react in a negative manner and said some inappropriate things and that’s disappointing. That’s unfortunate. You would hope that in 2014 we would be in a better place than that,” Smart said.

It’s led university officials and students involved in the protest to strategize on ways to move the school forward. But Smart says it wasn’t the beginning of racial dialogue on campus, noting separate discussions and mechanisms for addressing the aftermath of the shooting in Ferguson on a local level.

“Shortly after the shooting in Ferguson and before homecoming there had been a series of meetings with many of our African American student leaders and Francine Pratt and others in the Diversity and Inclusion Division with city leaders about how we could improve the racial climate in Springfield as a whole.”

Since the homecoming event, additional meetings on the subject have included a forum dedicated to reaction from the initial silent protest. Now, Missouri State has begun a series of “Discussion and Decompress” sessions.

“Where students can come and share how they’re feeling about that [the situation in Ferguson] and then hopefully there are longer term changes people are working on as well; whether that’s having this more regular part of the curriculum in certain classes, whether it’s a series of activities; and so planning going on that level as well.”

Smart adds it’s important that regardless of the issue that there is an opportunity for dialogue which can be conducted in an organized manner that’s “not confrontational, not overbearing, that’s not offensive.”

Related Content