Mizzou Misery – A Tall Tale of Bullying Proportions

Is Missouri University racist? The media claim that their diversity of Black students is far below standards at 7%. Really? Let’s take a look.

Stanford is 3.7%, Harvard is 7%, Princeton claims 8.7%, Georgia Tech – 7%, Columbia University 5.5%, Duke University 10.9%, Texas A&M 2.8%, Loyola 3.8%, University of Denver 2.9%, University of Virginia 6.5%…

According to the Department of Education, about 39% of blacks enter college. Given the black population in the US represents about 12.3% of the total population, that would indicate that 4.8% of college enrollment would defer to the black population. Which means that many of these universities are over the quota, including Missouri.

So what is really going on?

Bullying. 18.5% of college students report being bullied, 22% report cyber bullying. Traditionally, college faculty are told to NOT interfere in bullying, as it is considered a right of passage and teaches a student how to deal with real world social adversity. According to the US Department of Education, given that both the victim and the perpetrator in bullying at the college level are adults, no crime is committed unless it involves a sexual nature. In a study done by Lynne McDougal on college bullying, she found that: “A majority of the bullying is reported as occurring in the same corridor or department, thus suggesting that students within the same groups, divisions or under the same faculty are responsible for the bullying of their peers.” This would indicate that a specific professor could be held accountable for allowing the purveyance to continue.

In the case of Mizzou, the claims were of a racial slur, a feces swastika, and the President allegedly bumping a protestor with his car after the group circled his vehicle and would not let him pass, and he failed to apologize.  The feces swastika can not be proven.  The bumping was alleged.  So we left with ‘a racial slur’ event.  As a result, two very prominent representatives of the university were forcibly resigned.  So who is the REAL BULLY?  And the hunger strike?  C’mon people, is that what an employee would do upon not receiving a raise from his boss? As in I’m going to go on a hunger strike until I get what I demand no matter who it costs and what it costs…  Where is the reality?

While bullying in the US is a very serious problem, it is not by any means simply ‘racial’. It crosses all lines; gender, sexuality, religious affiliation, race, ethnicity, gpa, appearance, hazing, nerd quotient, accent, height, weight, you name it and someone will find a reason.  I’ve been bullied, my kids were bullied, it is the nature of an ugly side to society.

What happened at Mizzou was not racial – this was bullying. Period.

According to Brian Van Brunt, President of the National Behavior Intervention Team Association, this is widespread and growing. Firing a school president and chancellor will NOT make any dent in the issue. The issue is in the fact that other students allow bullying, are privy to the bully, and do nothing. According to Van Brunt, bystander intervention is the best way to fight the problem. Where were all these protestors and faculty members when the bullying was going on at Mizzou? What prevention did they employ? What remediation did they attempt to implement? Were school counsellors involved? Were the bully’s ever identified?

Is it the job of a university president to intervene in bullying at colleges? Is it President Obama’s responsibility if a child is bullied on a public playground?  Is the governor of your state responsible for the crimes committed in the state?  Imagine the chaos that would ensue?  We’d have no governors, no presidents, no CEO’s, no senators…at all.

According to Van Brunt, after bystanders, ie, students, the second leader to take effective action is a school counsellor through the ladder to the Director of Counselling and Dean of Students, when and if it is necessary. Third would be faculty intervention.

According to Federal laws, there are specific applications of law that address harassment and bullying defining it as being “severe, pervasive or persistent”, and “creating a hostile environment that is sufficiently serious so that it interferes or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from activities, services or opportunities at school”.   Was that the case at Mizzou?  No.  However, it became the case at Mizzou when the student and faculty body made life miserable for the President and Chancellor.

A university operates under the guidance of a very specific hierarchy, beginning with the Board. The Board determines what the President may and may not do. This President was specifically hired in 2012 to cut costs, that was his focus. The Board also includes a student advocate whose responsibility it is to communicate to the Board grievances and issues within the student body. In fact, Missouri University does have a grievance policy that addresses discrimination and harassment issues, including who to report to and a time limit for the agency to respond.

But, according to various media outlets, procedure was not followed. In fact, Facebook was the form of grievance employed.  The students and faculty at Mizzou are now faced without a leader, without a Chancellor or President.  They have been taught that this is the way to get your way.  They have been taught that bullying works.  Whoa be to the future of ethics.

The lesson learned? The Mule and The Well: Face our problems and respond to them positively so that the outcome reflects what you would have others do to you. When we demand punishment of those that are truly our protectors, we risk becoming the future victim of our own hostility.

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