In the tradition of legal narrative and storytelling, this Article explores how the University of Missouri managed to fare so badly after students began protesting during the fall of 2015. It draws upon both public sources and the author's own observations as a faculty leader. The Article reviews the details and context of the Missouri protests and then presents a case study of crisis management and conflict resolution gone awry. Applying observations about higher education policy and administration to the phenomenon of student protests - particularly those related to race - the Article identifies potential pitfalls for university administrators and student activists. It then explains how specific actions taken (and, in some cases, not taken) by University of Missouri leaders increased the risk that student protests would lead to long term institutional damage. Finally, the Article suggests lessons that leaders at other universities-including trustees and administrators, as well as students and faculty can take from Mizzou's experiences. Contrary to popular opinion, Mizzou did not have a uniquely bad racial climate, nor did its students behave in inexplicable ways. Instead, the challenges faced in Missouri will present themselves elsewhere, and leaders who have taken the time to learn from Mizzou's mistakes will fare better than those who choose to ignore this history.
Ben L. Trachtenberg,
The 2015 University of Missouri Protests and their Lessons for Higher Education Policy and Administration, 107 Kentucky Law Journal 61
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/facpubs/740