Jonathan Butler, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, began a hunger strike November 2, 2015 in response to a lack of action from University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe following a fall semester marked by various incidents.
In Butler’s letter to the UM Board of Curators on November 2nd, Butler said:
In the past 90 days alone we have seen the MSA President Payton Head being called the n-word on campus, graduate students being robbed of their health insurance, Planned Parenthood services being stripped from campus, #ConcernedStudent1950 peaceful demonstrators being threatened with pepper spray, and a matter of days ago a vile and disgusting act of hatred where a MU student drew a swastika in the Gateway residential hall with their own feces.
Butler said he would not end his hunger strike until President Wolfe resigned or was removed from his position.
One of my favorite civil rights activists, Maya Angelou, once said, “I agreed a long time ago, I would not live at any cost. If I am moved or forced away from what I think is the right thing. I will not do it.” What I believe is the right thing at this moment in time is for the UM system to begin a new chapter in its history books by removing Tim Wolfe and appointing a new UM system president. So as the collective body of UM curators considers my request and decides on what your next steps will be do not consider that my life is in your hands because my life is in God’s hands. What you should consider is what your legacy will be after this point, a legacy of progress and inclusion or a legacy of hatred, racism, and bigotry. My hope is that you will choose the former and not the latter.
A Black man who believes in freedom.
Jonathan L. Butler
Butler’s hunger strike would last until November 10th, when President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation in a crowded media room before the start of a scheduled meeting with the UM Board of Curators. This is the story of that hunger strike and Concerned Student 1950’s push for change on the University of Missouri’s campus.