Racial tension escalates at KU: How we got here

Student activists made their voices heard at a KU forum on race last week.
Student activists made their voices heard at a KU forum on race last week. Twitter

As racial tensions grow at the University of Kansas, the story is playing out on social media, where students are organizing, garnering support and venting.

The Student Senate’s Student Executive Committee is demanding that student body president Jessie Pringle, student body vice president Zach George and chief of staff Adam Moon step down by Wednesday and that the full Senate take up impeachment measures if they refuse to leave, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. The committee registered a 6-3 “no confidence” vote Friday for the three leaders. One member abstained from the vote.

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The resignation demand comes after last week’s unrest at the University of Missouri and after a forum that KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little moderated on Wednesday, where a student group Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk presented diversity demands, which include hiring a director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs by Dec. 15, mandatory “inclusion and belonging” training for students and faculty, and increased diversity in hiring.

Here are the events that have unfolded in Lawrence since last week, as told on Twitter.

Wednesday, Nov. 11

University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little moderated a forum on race — #KuConvo — at the Kansas Union that became acrimonious at times. At one point, according to Twitter, people yelled over the chancellor as she spoke. The meeting was packed.

At the forum, students and staff members aired frustrations about how minorities are treated, even ignored, at KU.

Some people questioned the worth of “diversity training.”

A student group called Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk — @InvisibleHawks — presented a list of “diversity demands.”

Student protesters took notice of two people who didn’t stand when everyone was asked to stand in solidarity with the students: student body president Jessie Pringle and student body vice president Zach George, who are now being asked to resign.

Thursday, Nov. 12

Black students on campuses nationwide held protests and rallies #InSolidarityWithMizzou.

Friday, Nov. 13

KU students protested at high-traffic Wescoe Beach on campus.

Some who participated in the race forum complained about retaliations.

Like at MU, protesters complained about the media, to the point of cutting off interaction with the student newspaper, The Daily Kansan.

John Cowan, a 2014 KU graduate who is white, began a hunger strike on campus in solidarity with the growing student movement.

Cowan was arrested last year for disorderly conduct after he disrupted two KU classes while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask to protest sexual assault allegations involving the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

According to the Journal-World, Cowan was nowhere to be found on Sunday night.

Saturday, Nov. 14

The three student leaders under fire released a statement saying, among other things, “black lives matter at the University of Kansas.”


Calls grew louder for a nationwide #StudentBlackout on Wednesday.

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