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MU to New York Times: You left out the good stuff

University of Missouri officials, while citing no errors of fact, criticized The New York Times on Tuesday.

The school claimed the newspaper left out key information in an article published this week that said “the campus has been shunned by students and families put off by, depending on their viewpoint, a culture of racism or one where protesters run amok.”

So, said a statement signed by University of Missouri System President Mun Y. Choi along with MU’s Interim Chancellor Garnett Stokes and incoming chancellor Alexander Cartwright, “We are writing to set the record straight.”

The New York Times article, the statement says, “attempted to summarize the challenges and opportunities facing the University of Missouri in the wake of protests and subsequent institutional changes during the past two years.”

University officials said they sent the statement to students, parents, faculty, alumni and friends of the university because they are frustrated that the Times story — Long After Protests, Students Shun the University of Missouri” — did not mention many of the positive steps the university has taken since 2015, including setting a fund-raising record just months after the protest, and the amount invested to increase diversity in all areas on the Columbia campus.

The latest trouble at MU — an enrollment dip and declines in state funding which have led to systemwide budget cuts — is widely attributed to fallout from the 2015 student protests over claims of systemic racism on the campus. The protest led to the resignations of the UM System president and MU’s chancellor.

Christian Basi, spokesman for MU and the UM System said top university leaders were made available for hours to The Times for the article. The reporter was given several pages of information outlining university efforts for recovery, Basi said.

He said he and MU officials were disappointed that few details they provided, such as increased safety on campus, high ratings from Standard & Poor’s, and that nearly 30 percent of MU’s class of 2016 had been in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, appeared in the Times article.

“We are learning from our past while serving as a model for a new engaged university to the nation. That’s not the story you read on Monday,” the statement said.

Danielle Rhoades Ha, a New York Times spokeswoman, issued a statement regarding its article: “The Times article was about the challenges facing the university as a result of the 2015 protests, which the university acknowledges. The article also gave the university’s point of view that the attention given the protests was overblown, and it discussed the measures the university is taking to combat this. The university does not challenge any of the facts in our story in their response.”

Basi said the university heard from alumni, students, potential students and friends of the university who said they had contacted The Times about the story.

“We just feel that several key pieces of information about our story were omitted,” said Basi. “So we just want to set the record straight.”

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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