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Mizzou May Be Punished Financially for Student Protests

A group of lawmakers in Missouri voted this week to penalize the University of Missouri financially because of the student protests that took place on campus in November.

Last week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon proposed a six percent increase in funding for higher education, totaling $55.6 million for all state-funded colleges and universities in the state of Missouri. The proposal ended up being approved for a two percent increase, but the increase applied to all state-funded institutions except for the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus. 

Rep. Donna Lichtenegger (R-Jackson), chair of the House Committee for Higher Education Appropriations, claims that the exclusion comes as a result of the controversy that erupted on campus and in the media last year regarding student activists protesting the administration’s response to racism on campus.

“They are there to learn. Not to protest all day long,” she said, according to the Huffington Post. “I thought we learned that lesson in the ’60s. Obviously we haven’t.”

Students began protesting in November due to their disappointment with faculty and administrative responses to many racially charged incidents that took place on campus. In a video that has since gone viral, protesters can be seen at the Mizzou homecoming parade surrounding then-President Tim Wolfe’s convertible as it travelled through the crowd of parade-goers and speaking one-by-one through a megaphone about racist incidents that have taken place on campus from Mizzou’s founding year, 1839, to 2015. The incident is what ultimately resulted in Wolfe resigning as president of the university.

The protests at Mizzou sparked demonstrations at other schools around the country, and a recent survey of college freshman showed that students are more likely to protest than ever before.

Lichtenegger now claims that the university student government should do more to prevent protests from happening.

Lichtenegger expressed annoyance that the protests had made national news, according to the Columbia Missourian. “It has made our university a laughingstock, and I’m trying to make people understand that we are not going to be a laughingstock,” she said.

It seems as though only one person had enough nerve to combat the proposal. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) claims that the proposal is simply unfair because of the fact that it was created out of retaliation.

“In my opinion, it’s retaliatory, and retaliatory actions from General Assembly and the legislature are not going to be felt by administrators that people are frustrated with,” he said in the Missourian. “It’s going to be felt by students by way of higher fees and reduced educational opportunities.”

This isn’t the first time that Missouri legislators have tried to punish Mizzou and its students for the protests. In December, state Rep. Rick Brattin proposed that student athletes who refused to play for any reason other than health (such as protest) should lose their scholarships. However, the Brattin later dropped the bill.

Danielle is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in English and minoring in Sociology. You can usually find her dividing her time between being Campus Correspondent of Her Campus UGA, binge-watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix and daydreaming about being one of Beyonce's backup dancers. If you want to know more about Danielle, you can follow her on Instagram (@danielleknecole_) or Twitter (@DanielleKnecole).
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