On Wednesday, a University of Missouri student wrote an article published to Total Sorority Move, explaining her opposition to #ConcernedStudent1950. #ConcernedStudent1950 is an activist group formed in response to racial hostility at Mizzou and its president, Timothy M. Wolfe's, failure to adequately address it.
With excerpts like "It's a borderline laughable waste of time," and "The fact that [Jonathan] Butler assumed that Tim Wolfe could eradicate racism in every single person on this campus is downright stupid," Lucy "Lucky Jo" Mulvihill, the author of the article, makes it abundantly clear that she is unwilling to acknowledge, much less discuss and take action on, persisting racial problems. Mulvihill's article reads like the tweets of someone who is annoyed with an issue that poses a minor inconvenience to him/her. Inconveniences that include the cancellation of classes and the presence of media reporters. Inconveniences spawned by the dehumanizing racial aggression that blacks at Mizzou have endured for so long.
With a student body population that is 77 percent white and 7 percent black, 69 percent of Mizzou's scholarship football players are black, according to USA Today. Wolfe's resignation announcement followed Mizzou's football teams' promise to boycott football-related activities. Mizzou's athletic department is a significant source of revenue - in 2014, it reached $83.7 million. When the suffering of a graduate student who went on a hunger strike is not enough to incite change in the administration, monetary incentives will accomplish just that.
Rather than empathizing with the students who suffered from racial discrimination, Mulvihill chose to empathize with Wolfe for his employment predicament. She lamented how Wolfe lost respectability for his unrespectable actions. This kind of mentality is precisely what breeds intolerance.
This problem is not unique to Mizzou. Recently, racist incidents that occurred on college campuses across the nation have made headlines. At Yale University, a group of colored women was purportedly turned away by a Sigma Alpha Epsilon member at a "white girls only" party. At Ithaca College, students called for the resignation of its president Tom Rochon for failure to act upon multiple racial insensitivity complaints.
A common question circulating amongst students is, "Why is racism so pervasive in 2015?"
It can be perplexing - discrimination does not make economic sense; it is not rational. The individuals discriminated against in job market are prevented from using their talents to their full potential. A study called The Allocation of Talent and U.S. Economic Growth sought to examine the impact talent misallocation has on aggregate productivity. The results demonstrated that discrimination-based talent misallocation hinders productivity.
"Calculations suggest that falling barriers may explain 15 to 20 percent of aggregate wage growth, 75 percent of the rise in women's labor force participation, and essentially all of the wage convergence between women and blacks and white men."
Despite discrimination not making economic sense, discrimination in the workplace still exists. Despite discrimination not making humanistic sense, humans continue to discriminate against other humans based on color and other factors. Do some humans simply opt for convenience in the form of narrow-minded thinking?
In The Economics of Racism, Michael Reich, author of the study, said that racism is hard to quantify. "No single quantitative index could adequately measure racism in all its social, cultural, psychological, and economic dimensions," he said.
As a society, we continue to grapple with how to best analyze predictors of racism and use those results to find solutions to racism. Racism is a complex construct that is not easily measurable. An study that investigated the relationship between Google searches of the word "nigger" and the mortality rate of blacks living in the geographic area, while interesting, may not draw a meaningful conclusion. It is difficult to determine the motivations behind the Google searches, thus rendering Google searches a weak explanatory factor.
However, the ease of information sharing, thanks to social media and the ensuing citizen journalism, has undoubtedly helped call issues to nationwide attention. The mobilization of college students nationwide is a testimony to the power of numbers.
Are we, as a generation, sparking a new wave of social movements? While these racial problems have continuously been challenged over the years, it seems to me that now, more than ever, that these issues have been propelled to the forefront.
College serves many purposes -- to educate, to prepare students for careers, and to provide a place for students to develop networks and form friendships. College is also a place to challenge conventions and catalyze meaningful change.