Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Tim Wolfe’s resignation.
University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation during a press conference Monday morning amid growing outrage over his handling of racial matters on campus. "Please, please use my resignation to heal, not to hate," he said.
The story garnered national attention Saturday evening after 32 African-American football players at the university posted a missive on Twitter declaring that they would no longer be participating in sports unless Wolfe resigned or was fired. Wolfe had been under fire with the black student population since they said several racially charged incidents had gone largely ignored.
The football players' protest came almost a week after Jonathan Butler, a grad student at the school, declared a hunger strike, for which he said he was willing to die of starvation unless the president stepped down. Since Wolfe resigned, Butler has since ended his hunger strike, which lasted some eight days.
Before Wolfe's resignation, some teachers and faculty had staged a walkout early Monday morning, joining students who had been camped outside Wolfe's office since Nov. 2. They, too, had demanded that the president step down.
How did tensions get this high? Here is everything we know:
How Did All of This Begin?
According to reports, several black students at the school noted that there had always been an undercurrent of racial tension on campus. In a statement, university Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin told the Washington Post, "Racism has deep roots at our university."
However, according to grad student Butler, the Post reported, things really came to a boil around Aug. 9, 2014, when white Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The shooting rocked the entire nation, but the effects were especially felt at the university campus in Columbia, Mo., about two hours east of Ferguson.
Bulter told the Post that while he and several Mizzou students drove to Ferguson to protest the shooting, the school didn't do much to address the racial unrest in Ferguson or the racial tensions brewing at the school.
"There was national coverage, so for the school to not cover that or really address that, and we are only two hours away, I think, was a huge mistake on their part and contributed to the current cultural environment that we have," he said. "It just shows that there are racially motivated things—murders, assaults, other things—that happen and we are just going to sweep them under the rug."
On Sept. 11, 2015, Payton Head, the Missouri Students Association president, was called a 'n—ger' by a group of white students as he walked home. Head posted a letter on Facebook the next day, which noted, "I really just want to know why my simple existence is such a threat to society."
Head was not the only student who had been called racial slurs while on or around the campus, and black students became upset when it took Loftin nearly a week to respond to Head's charges.
According to the Post, on Oct. 5, members of the Legion of Black Collegians were rehearsing for a play when a white male grabbed the microphone and called them "n—gers."
That student was identified and removed from campus, according to the Post.
On Oct. 10, during homecoming, Butler and several black students, calling themselves "Concerned Student 1950" (a reference to the year black students were first admitted to the 176-year-old university), surrounded a red convertible carrying Wolfe and his wife, according to Heavy. The students demanded to speak with the university president. He asked that police remove them from the road.
On Oct. 24, a student "scrawled a swastika in human feces on the floor and wall of a dormitory," according to the Kansas City Star.
At 9 a.m. on Nov. 2, Butler began his hunger strike, for which, he said, one of three things would need to happen in order for him to end it: 1) Tim Wolfe would resign from office, 2) Wolfe would be fired from office or 3) Butler would die of starvation.
On Friday, Wolfe issued an apology for the way he handled the student's homecoming protest.
"I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the Concerned Student 1950 group approached my car. I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue," Wolfe said in a statement viewed by the Kansas City Star. "My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention."
Wolfe also acknowledged that racism is a problem at the university.
"Racism does exist at our university, and it is unacceptable," Wolfe said. "It is a long-standing, systemic problem which daily affects our family of students, faculty and staff. I am sorry this is the case."
Butler told the Post that these instances were just a few of what contributes to a continued climate of racial unrest at the school.
"We are facing a lot of negativity and oppression on a daily basis," Butler told the Post. "And then you see students go to diversity forums, you see them write letters, you see them write emails and send tweets and do all these things; we bare our souls and tell very painful stories but … our lives are still not valued.
"At some point, after spending all that energy telling people that I deserve to be recognized as a human, like my existence matters, at a certain point you are putting people in a corner and you keep poking them with a stick, things escalate until people feel like they are hurt," he said.
What’s Happened Since the Black Players Called for Tim Wolfe’s Resignation?
Wolfe resigned Monday morning. But his resignation results not only from Butler's and the football team's actions but also from unified efforts across campus. According to Deadspin, "Sen. Claire McCaskill urged the Board of Curators to act; and state lawmakers, from both parties, called for Wolfe's removal."
Before resigning, Wolfe issued a statement Sunday noting that he was willing to work with all sides to reach a resolution, but he did not say at that time that he would step down.
"It is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns," Wolfe said. "My administration has been meeting around the clock and has been doing a tremendous amount of reflection on how to address these complex matters. Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides, and are confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses. We want to find the best way to get everyone around the table and create the safe space for a meaningful conversation that promotes change. We will share next steps as soon as they are confirmed."
On Sunday evening, Gary Pinkel, coach of the Missouri football team, tweeted his support of the protesting players, adding that his team was "united" and "stands as one."
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon noted Sunday that the university had to address the concerns.
"Racism and intolerance have no place at the University of Missouri or anywhere in our state," Nixon said, according to ESPN. "Our colleges and universities must be havens of trust and understanding. These concerns must be addressed to ensure the University of Missouri is a place where all students can pursue their dreams in an environment of respect, tolerance and inclusion."
There are three remaining football games on Missouri's schedule. The next football game is Nov. 14.