Cotton Balls Set Off Debate on Race at U. of Missouri

March 2, 2010

Students gathered at the University of Missouri at Columbia Monday night to discuss the ramifications of an incident in which cotton balls were scattered in front of the university's Black Culture Center, The Columbia Missourian reported. The cotton balls were seen by many as a reference to slavery and as "symbolic violence," according to participants at the meeting. Students at the meeting criticized the university for not doing enough to advance diversity. Some suggested that the Black Culture Center should be a stop on campus tours. Others suggested a diversity course requirement. And some criticized the university for not speaking out quickly enough or forcefully enough about last week's incident. A statement from Brady Deaton, the chancellor, called the scattering of cotton balls in front of the center a "disheartening and inexcusable act" and "despicable" and he pledged that university police were working to identify those responsible.

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