Fireside chat blazes on despite protest

While UM President Choi and Interim Chancellor and Provost Bichelmeyer discussed UMKC’s future during Friday afternoon’s fireside chat, some protesters temporarily got in the way. The protest unfolded quickly but vocally, mentioning alleged oppression by UMKC Athletics.

The event began with UM President Choi talking about the cost of putting a UMKC student through the university. Choi emphasized that UMKC ranks well below the national average in terms of affordability.

About 10 minutes into the event, two protesters suddenly stood up and started shouting. One of them unfurled a small, red banner without words.

The other protester, a young woman, expressed her anger with UMKC Athletics and alleged the department harbors rapists.

No security approached the protesters. Choi himself offered a microphone to one of them, which he accepted. After briefly criticizing UMKC’s administration for lacking sexual and racial inclusions, as well as its handling of sexual assault complaints , the protesters left as quickly as they arrived.

UM President Mun Choi and Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer’s fireside chat was briefly interrupted.

UM President Mun Choi and Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer’s fireside chat was briefly interrupted.

Choi and Bichelmeyer chose to continue the event.

Bichelmeyer referenced the protestor’s complaints, namely that UMKC’s leadership was being racially and sexually non-inclusive.

“We do respect the Title IX process,” Bichelmeyer said.

After briefly commenting on the protest, Bichelmeyer and Choi moved on to other issues, including Gov. Eric Greitens’ recent suggested budget cuts. The Kansas City Star commented about $70 million would be cut from the Missouri higher education budget.

“I do believe that this spring is our trough,” Bichelmeyer said in reference to the aforementioned cuts in spending.

UMKC professor Clara Irazabal-Zurita had her own impassioned commentary on the event, including the quick protest

“I sensed pain and frustration on the part of the students,” Irazabal-Zurita said, adding that she was glad Choi gave protestors the opportunity to speak.

“I appreciated the President and the Provost and Interim Chancellor updating the UMKC community on the challenging budgetary conditions the university is going through and the plans ahead,” she said.

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