Yesterday a group from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas picketed in Warrensburg on a corner next to the campus of the University of Central Missouri.
It’s not like the good old days when thousands would gather in opposition.
So, there they stood for around thirty minutes under the watchful eyes of University of Central Missouri and Warrensburg Police. And a handful of counter protesters, curious passersby, and some more forward performance artists. It’s not like the good old days.
It has been said that today in America one third of the population would gladly kill another third of the population while still another third would stand by and do nothing.
The problem for old school bigots is that now they get lost in the noise. Professionals have taken over in America and they’ve been left behind.
It must gall them to no end.
All that experience and refined sign making skills. The lessons learned in dressing for the weather, the practice and dexterity involved in holding up four signs. All for naught.
Statement Regarding Westboro Baptist Church Protest
The views of Westboro Baptist Church should not be considered those of the University of Central Missouri. UCM, however, supports freedom of speech, and ask campus members to seek out positive, productive, non-violent ways to express differing points of view. Students, faculty and staff also are encouraged to reflect on their own values when confronted with divisive rhetoric that is not conducive to the friendly, welcoming campus environment that so many members of the UCM family enjoy.
Ah, hit a run picketing. Today from approximately noon to 12:30 p.m.:
The tiny demonstration drew a considerable police presence (University of Central Missouri and Warrensburg), a number of counter protesters, and a few curious bystanders. A few individuals tried to engage some of the Westboro individuals in conversational debate.
“Sitting in Silence. For equality, peace and love…in the Quaker tradition.”
University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose [2016 file photo].
The following is an op-ed written by Chuck Ambrose, the President of the University of Central Missouri:
State Support for Higher Education an Investment in Missouri’s Economic Future
As Missourians, we all have a stake in our state’s economic success. As such, we should be cognizant of critical factors that contribute to stronger communities which also mean better public schools for our children and services to improve the quality of our lives. While our state faces budget challenges, higher education continues to be an exceptional asset in helping to meet economic as well as social goals, and citizens deserve a strong public policy in support of colleges and universities as an investment in the public good required to drive Missouri’s future forward. Continued reductions in appropriations for higher education are only hindering the opportunity to maximize the potential these institutions provide the state, and most importantly, directly to its people.
Growing jobs and creating an environment that stimulates the economy for all Missouri residents is the goal. Studies show the value of a college degree includes an enhanced lifetime earning potential of $1 million more for graduates versus those without a degree. Additionally, a well-educated workforce is good for local businesses seeking to broaden their consumer base. Amidst a growing need for the state to be more competitive on a global level, we must consider who is going to provide training for a workforce that is well prepared to seek out new markets for home-grown goods and services overseas. Evidence of Missouri’s desire to enter this realm includes a recent bid to bring Amazon’s second headquarters to Kansas City. A globally competitive environment for business requires a globally competitive commitment to higher education, and public higher education institutions are ready to respond.
Some 359,492 students are currently served by post-secondary education throughout the state. Collectively, we must ask ourselves how do we value these students’ place and the impact 27 public and 25 private campuses hold within Missouri’s public policy agenda? If they are important, then the current divestment trend must be reversed.
In order for higher education to achieve its full potential as an economic driver, there must be a stronger commitment to funding Missouri’s colleges and universities to ensure that students are not priced out of the opportunity to earn a degree. Institutions themselves also have a role in exploring and implementing new initiatives to help meet accessibility and affordability goals so that students do not bear the burden of rising educational costs and an escalating college debt load. But higher education institutions can’t do this alone.
During the past two decades, state support for public higher education has decreased dramatically, from 65 percent of Missouri public institutions’ total revenue to about 35 percent currently. Using the University of Central Missouri as an example, the net state appropriation for Fiscal Year 2018 was $52.7 million, considerably below the $57.9 million budgeted net appropriation for FY17. This is almost a $400 decline in funding per student in one year. Unfortunately, maintaining an accessible, affordable education will not get easier as the Missouri governor’s recommendation for FY19 funding dips to the 2004 state appropriations level.
While the decline in state funding presents a financial challenge, at UCM the focus on student success has meant finding ways to keep students from shouldering the impact of these revenue declines. This means keeping tuition below the consumer price index while still maintaining a quality education; an aggressive completion agenda; maximizing opportunities to create public K-12-higher educationbusiness partnerships such as The Missouri Innovation Campus and Innovation Track programs that reduce the time to degree completion and students’ debt; and becoming the first institution to implement the 15-to-Finish Scholarship concept to keep students on track for timely degree completion.
By contributing to a better economy, higher education can help break the cycle of poverty across the state. Meeting this goal also includes serving many first-generation, low-income students who are pioneering the education trail for their families.
Considering the benefits of a higher education, it is hoped that future public policy will recognize the value proposition Missouri colleges and universities represent for the state. Public institutions are positioned to deliver opportunities that will drive local economies, but more state support is needed to ensure costs are not passed onto Missouri families and that access to college and its affordability remain attainable goals.
Dr. Chuck Ambrose, President University of Central Missouri
Students on the campus of the University of Central Missouri held a vigil in support of Charlotteville, Virginia last night. Over fifty students, staff, and community friends attended.
….our mission to to stand together as a campus community against hate, injustice, and bigotry; and give our families an opportunity to express and share messages of hope, love, and healing.
Join the Warrensburg and Springfield Missouri Organized Student Alliance as we come together to promote peace and justice on our campuses and within our community! Let us not remain silent during times such as this….
Messages of hope:
University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose with students at the vigil.
Yesterday evening approximately two hundred University of Central Missouri students gathered outdoors on campus to protest Donald Trump and an earlier incident on campus.
After initially gathering at the Speaker’s Commons (including two instances of fireworks fired into the crowd and a small group of Trump supporters chanting “build that wall”) the crowd moved to the mall in front of the Student Union. A portion of that crowd moved out further into campus, marching to the Multipurpose Building where they were harassed by individuals in two pickup trucks. As of last night police were still looking for the vehicle and driver who drove into the crowd.
Students expressing their opinion about Donald Trump (r) – on the mall on the campus of the University of Central Missouri – November 10, 2016.
Earlier in the day via Twitter in response to an incident, from University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose:
Chuck Ambrose @UCMAmbrose
@UCentralMO cares about every student’s experience & welfare. Hate is not tolerated. Treat others as you want to be treated everyday. 10:17 AM – 10 Nov 2016
After the students returned to the mall from the Multipurpose Building UCM President Chuck Ambrose held an open forum for students starting at 8:00 p.m. in the Union. Before the forum he spent time on the mall speaking with students.
University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose speaking with students at an open forum in the Student Union after campus protests – November 10, 2016.
President Ambrose spoke to the students and spent over an hour and a half answering their questions and listening to their concerns.
UCM President Chuck Ambrose: …I’d like to do two things if we could. I’d like to just say some comments, just a few. And I want to, I promise you a conversation. So, a matter of fact, I will tell you something – that I feel more earnest as a president of UCM, I, in dialogue with you, am looking for as many answers as you are. And so, I’ll confess to you as fifty-five year old white male that the weight of social change, the things that are happening in the world, certainly events this week, I don’t have as many answers, by far, as I do questions. And one of the big questions, obviously, is where do we go from here.
But there’s three things I want to, to really underline and they’re the three reasons that I specifically wanted to have an opportunity to talk with you directly. But they’re also three things that I want you to know are important to us as a university going into the future. Right, so it’s not just a reaction to, to today, or yesterday, or this week.
There’s three things that,that are very important. One, is I’m very proud of your activism. I’m very proud of your passion. I think we have talked, for those of you who have been here more than one year, it is very important in this world to activate. When you have cares, concerns, passion, anxiety, fear, and more importantly, social justice, equality, equity – you know activating that sense of purpose, regardless of your perspective. And I’m just gonna confess something to you as president of the university, I really expected this degree of passion and activism over the last several weeks, right, leading up to a semester that had a presidential election with as much emotion….
….I got a tweet a little earlier tonight, “I can’t believe UCM is allowing a protest.” Well, a college campus is a great place [laughter] to have a protest, right? [cheers, applause] I mean, that’s part of being an American. It’s a guaranteed constitutional ability for us to allow you to express yourselves….
….Our responsibility is just to provide you a safe place, a safe campus, a safe community where you can express yourselves. And we’ll work to do that because I imagine that this isn’t the last evening that you’ll want to express yourselves. And I know not everyone will share my view, but I think it’s a good thing that you have the opportunity to make your voice heard. And as I look at you guys, thinking about that generational passing of the world, I’m real hopeful that your passion and compassion for each other and for this world and the country is activated….
UCM police provided some update on the incidents earlier in the evening and asked for information to help identify the parties involved.
I approached the entrance of a campus building early this morning, right before the automatic locks on the doors opened. There was a torn sheet of paper on the ground in front of the door. I picked it up (litter) and upon reading it realized it was a flyer for a protest on campus this evening. I encountered a small group of twenty-something males waiting inside the entry way for the lock to open. One of them greeted me by name. There were also more flyers for the same event, torn and untorn, scattered around on the floor. I picked up those remains, placed them neatly to the side, and loudly said, “We’re at a university, aren’t we?” The group remained quiet until the lock opened a few minutes later.
This representation of the flyer can’t be torn down. I’ll be there for the campus rally.
There were two events featuring speakers on the campus of the University of Central Missouri this evening. One, sponsored by the UCM College Republicans, featured Allen West, a former member of Congress (one term) and semi-famous or semi-notorious (take your pick) right wingnut. We didn’t attend that event, mostly because we weren’t particularly interested in what he had to say and partly because we couldn’t be in two places at once.
The other event featured Dr. Moussa Elbayoumy, Board Chair for the Kansas Chapter of CAIR, the Council on American–Islamic Relations. He spoke for over an hour before a standing room only crowd of approximately 200 individuals which included students and community members. His speech was sponsored by the Muslim Students’ Association, the Saudi Students’ Club, and the UCM Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity.
We have no idea how many people showed up to hear Allen West (r) speak.
A flyer posted on campus advertising a speech by Allen West (r) at the University of Central Missouri, sponsored by the UCM College Republicans – November 2, 2016.
Dr. Moussa Elbayoumy, Board Chair for the Kansas Chapter of CAIR, the Council on American–Islamic Relations, speaking at the University of Central Missouri – November 2, 2016.
A portion of Dr. Moussa Elbayoumy’s remarks:
Dr. Moussa Elbayoumy: [….] That’s how our community should respond. The biggest concern we have right now with this wave we have over the last two years in the political campaign is not necessarily what one person says, but the fact that this hate that we would have never accepted to be in the media – in the newspaper, or on TV, or on the radio. There was always an undercurrent or a stream of a few individuals that have this hate in their heart, that have this bigotry that was never allowed to come to the surface. But now, since it’s elected officials doing it, candidates for elections doing it, it became mainstream. It became acceptable to say that you hate Muslims, or that they have no place here, we’re going to ban them, and they have no rights, and all the stuff, craziness that we hear now.
The problem here is if we allow it then it’s going to prevail. And it will take all of us to stand up together and say, No, not in my town, not in my university, not in my school, not in my work place. Imagine, take what’s being said about Muslims and instead of the word Muslim, put Jewish, or put African American, or put whatever you want and see what the reaction of the community will be. The KKK is still a legal organization in the U.S. until now. And they can get up and stand and talk about African Americans and slaves and say whatever they want. That’s not illegal. But it’s still, it’s socially unacceptable and ethically unacceptable. And because people refuse it no one dares to say it. And if anyone says it they suffer the consequences immediately whether they have to apologize or they have to resign from their job or whatever it is. I wonder why do we as a society allow that to be different in the case of a different group of people. And it’s going to take all of us to stand up and say, no.
One of the speakers at Dr. [William] Corporon’s and Reat’s [Underwood] funeral said something that stuck in my mind until now. He said, just like a bully usually tries to pick on people perceived to be weak. Bullies, in general, are cowards. And they only pick on someone that they think is weaker than them, that can’t respond. But it will only take somebody, when they see someone bullying another person in the locker room, in their school, to step in and say, you may think that you’re stronger than him, but in order to get to him you have to go through me and I’m not going to let you.
And this takes all of us, when we see something like that, to step in and say, I’m not gonna let you practice your hate against my neighbor or my classmate or my coworker. To get to them you have to go through me.
That’s how we fight hate with love. Your love for your neighbor, your classmate, and your coworker is the only antidote that will stop hate from hurting anybody else. [….]
Part of the standing room only crowd listening to Dr. Moussa Elbayoumy.
After the presentation by Dr. Elbayoumy the audience adjourned to the lobby to share a meal:
Before the two events started Young America’s Foundation, apparently the right wingnut welfare organization funding Allen West’s appearance at UCM, posted a whiney release/statement on their web site [no link, you can easily find it via an Internet search] complaining about CAIR, etc.
In the Fall college towns across Missouri hold homecoming events, including parades. In an election year the crowds that gather to watch the parade are a convenient concentration of people for individuals running for public office. On off years, the crowds are still there, but there are fewer politicians.
This morning Jason Kander, the Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016, walked the University of Central Missouri homecoming parade, taking the opportunity to greet people and shake hands along the parade route.
Secretary of State and 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander (D) at the University of Central Missouri Homecoming Parade, in Warrensburg – October 24, 2015
Warrensburg Daily Star Journal Editor Jack Miles spoke with Jason Kander (D) as he walked in the parade.
Interestingly, there wasn’t a republican entry in the parade that we could find. We did look.
The 76th annual session of Missouri Boys State sponsored by the American Legion is being held in Warrensburg on the campus of the University of Central Missouri this week. 983 high school boys from close to four hundred high schools across the state are attending the session. Registration started after noon on Saturday:
A Boys State counselor speaks with parents during Saturday’s afternoon registration.
Leading a town cheer before the start of the evening assembly.
Lowry Finley-Jackson, Adjutant for the American Legion Department of Missouri.
University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose took a selfie with Boys Staters
behind him in the audience from the stage of Hendricks Hall during last night’s opening assembly.
And, we’ll be covering as many speakers as we can this week:
LT. GENERAL MARTIN R. STEELE
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Lt. Gen. Martin Steele rose from Marine Corps private to three-star general, culminating his military career as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, Policies, and Operations at Headquarters, US Marine Corps. Upon his retirement from active duty he served as President & CEO of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. Lt. Gen. Steele currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Veterans Research, Executive Director of Military Partnerships, and Co-Chair of the Veterans Reintegration Committee at the University of South Florida.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Karl Rove will accept the 27th Annual George W. Lehr Memorial Speaker’s Chair on Monday evening at Hendricks Hall. Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000-2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004-2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process. Before Karl Rove became known as “The Architect” of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, non-partisan causes, and non-profit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional, and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Warner Baxter is chairman, president and chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation, parent company of utilities that serve more than 2.4 million electric and nearly 900,000 natural gas customers. Additionally, Baxter serves on the boards of UMB Financial Corporation, Edison Electric Institute, Barnes Jewish Hospital, the Electric Power Research Institute, and The Muny.
MISSOURI AUDITOR NICOLE GALLOWAY
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Nicole Galloway is the 38th State Auditor of Missouri. As State Auditor, Nicole brings her expertise to work for all Missourians to be their watchdog holding government accountable. Prior to becoming State Auditor Nicole was Treasurer of Boone County for four years. She was Secretary/Treasurer of the Missouri Technology Corporation, investing in entrepreneurs to help create jobs, and she served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Missouri County Employees’ Retirement Fund, protecting the retirement benefits of nearly 16,000 participants in 111 counties.
MISSOURI GOVERNOR JAY NIXON
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Jay Nixon is serving his second term as governor of Missouri. As Governor, Jay Nixon has worked to make government more efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of Missouri families. He is committed to maintaining fiscal discipline, creating jobs, growing the economy and investing in public education. Prior to becoming Governor, Jay Nixon was elected to a record four terms as Missouri’s Attorney General. In 1986, he was elected to his first term in the Missouri State Senate, where he would represent the people of Jefferson County for six years.
WHITE HOUSE FELLOW AND NAVY SEAL COMMANDER ERIC GREITENS
Friday, June 19, 2015
A Navy SEAL, Rhodes Scholar, boxing champion, and humanitarian leader, Eric is the founder of The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Missouri that challenges veterans to serve and inspire in communities across America, and the author of the New York Times best-seller The Heart and The Fist. Eric was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a White House Fellow, and in 2011 the Association of the United States Navy named him the Navy Reserve Junior Line Officer of the Year. In 2014, Eric stepped down as CEO of The Mission Continues but continues to serve as an ambassador and member of the Board.
A statement from the University of Central Missouri:
The University of Central Missouri is committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment, both on campus and with regard to other types of off-campus learning opportunities, including academic internships.
UCM does not respond to questions about campus investigations. Federal law protects the privacy of our students, and requires colleges and universities to have policies and procedures in place to protect our campus learning environment for all students, employees and guests. As such, the university cannot comment on an individual student’s academic program of study, or with regard to any situation which could potentially affect a student’s confidentiality regarding his/her academic studies.
The university strongly supports the provisions of Title IX and what it means for the safety and security of campus members and guests. UCM will not respond to questions about specific students and employees, but will be glad to share information about our Title IX Policy/Procedures.
The university has a long and successful history of providing internship opportunities for our students in Jefferson City, and we expect these programs will continue.