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The MU Protests and Their Impact on UMKC: A Retrospective Q&A

Senior Cameron McGuire is a UMKC health sciences student and a member of the Lambda Alpha chapter of the African-American fraternity Phi Beta Sigma. The following questions and answers have been edited for clarity.

Q: What’s your take on the events at Mizzou last year now that time has passed?

A: Reflecting on that, it just shows that we just have a lot of room to grow for real. As a campus, a university system. That stuff stems from society and culture, people’s homes and upbringings.

Q: What’s your opinion on the protestor’s methods? How do you feel about the university’s response?

A: I think their methods were real radical but they must have been [radical] for a reason. I don’t think they would have done that [protested] for no reason. And I think response was… well obviously there was a problem. I know that they said the president didn’t even acknowledge them when they [the protestors] tried to stop him during an event. There must be a lot of heartfelt issues still.

Q: Do you think that it was the right move to have the president and chancellor resign?

A: I think for now yeah. In the midst of all of that, yeah it is. But you won’t really know until if thei ssue is solved. I don’t know if he’s the sole reason, he might just have to be the person to take the fall. I think it probably had to happen just being in the midst of that. Some type of change had to happen immediately. Just to cool everything off that’s the best they could do.

Q: Mizzou changed their athlete’s scholarship contracts, making it so that if they refuse to play they forfeit their scholarships. What do you think about that?

A: That’s crazy. It’s almost taking their voice away a little bit, depending on what they refuse to play for. I doubt they would refuse to play for no reason, they spend the majority of their time in practice. The school gets their money from the students so like really, that’s kind of messed up. Basically it’s giving less power to these athletes that they [the school] takes all their time and effort from. Now you’re kind of making them a slave to the game as opposed to just enjoying it.

Q: Many of the facilities students at Mizzou were demanding exist here at UMKC. Why do think we have them and Mizzou doesn’t?

A: I just know from my perspective, UMKC preaches diversity. I mean Kansas City is a more diverse community as a whole. You’ve got people from the borderline, people from the Kansas side, coming from north, east, south. Columbia is just that small town, real conservative town. The only thing there really is the college. Outside of that it’s a more rural area. I think that makes a real big difference as far as their diversity. So we have programs here that probably started getting established years ago. For people of different groups and feeling different injustices. I think it’s a little more embedded in our history than theirs.

Q: The events at Mizzou spurred some discourse on our campus about the culture our university presents in regards to racial issues and representation. What’s your take on that?

A: I think it’s a relevant conversation. It sparked a relevant conversation. I don’t think we have issues nearly as big as theirs, I think our issues are a lot more hidden just because we do speak and preach out diversity. Everybody can try to uphold that standard but you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. We see they have issues, let’s question what’s going on here. When you get to working in the university system, some students say they do have complaints. I personally don’t run into that kind of stuff, I won’t lie. I haven’t felt any racial tension from anyone. Everybody’s just more sensitive than some other people, some people feel like certain things are injustices. I’m not gonna say they aren’t, I’m sure they do exist. I’m just the kind of person that’s thinking about what I can do anyways besides the fact. I know even being at one of those talks that they had, a lot of people just want to vent on issues and not that many people were focused on creating a solution. I think it just comes down to understanding and looking for solutions to people’s issues and not just venting about them.

Q: What other impacts do you feel the protests have had on our campus, if any?

A: Just sparking up that conversation [about race] around our campus. They had a lot of town hall meetings, public talks with student organizations and different faculty and staff on campus. I think it sparked a conversation and made it more relevant to our campus.

Q: What’s the most important thing you took away from the protests at Mizzou?

A: Trying to understand and actually cooperate. Not letting things go behind closed doors. There’s just a certain level of understanding and empathy that’s gonna have to be developed. Conversations from the past [about race] are still relevant today. I think they look they look different than they did and I think progress is evident. But still these racial tensions need to be talked about, they need to be brought to the surface. They shouldn’t just be pushed aside. People get balled up and they bring heated discussions. People start questioning the administration and the school system and everything. Those things just can’t go hidden. These conversations need to be relevant. They need to speak on diversity more and preach an understanding of cultures. Don’t preach diversity and have a school system where it’s messed up, because when the students get there they’re gonna realize and see what’s really going on and not feel it. Speak on these issues and make people feel comfortable.

Q: What do you think students at UMKC should take away from the events at Mizzou?

A: Students do have a voice, but they need to use that voice too. Same way I’m saying the school and the university needs to be involved in speaking to issues, students do too. It has to be an actual community, a connection between students and everybody. Both sides need to continue that conversation [on race and diversity].

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