Students at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) have repeatedly covered a statue of Thomas Jefferson with post-it notes that include insults like, “Racist,” “Rapist,” “Abuser,” “Sexist,” and “Slave Owner.”
The statue, located on the east side of the Francis Quadrangle, has been covered in post-it notes several times even after some students removed the notes.
The Missourian, Mizzou’s on-campus newspaper,reported that the statue was a gift from theJefferson Club, which consists of a board of trustees and donors. The club donated the statue in 2000 to commemorate Jefferson and the history of Mizzou.
According to The Missourian, grad student Maxwell Little created a petition in August which said “The Thomas Jefferson statue that sits on the quad of the University of Missouri campus delivers a nonverbal code” that affects him “emotionally and psychologically.” The petition says the statue must be removed in order to “project a progressive environment.”
While the petition gained little support, Maxwell teamed with several students to create the hashtag #PostYourStateOfMind to “engage people in a critical conversation about sexual assault and racism.”
Bryant Hill, another student involved in the creation of the initiative said in an interview with The Missourian, that they weren’t trying to “completely shove that down anybody’s throat, but just the idea of open dialogue and becoming more knowledgeable about the situation is important.”
Cody Layton, a sophomore at Mizzou, told Campus Reform that he feels “defacing anything is in no way a peaceful type of protesting even if it is just sticky notes.”
Chair of the University of Missouri College Republicans, Skyler Roundtree, voiced a similar sentiment, telling Campus Reform that while he respects students rights to exercise free speech, he doesn’t believe the statue should be defaced during those expressions.
“I think it’s great that students here practice their rights of free speech. But it’s a shame to see the Founding Father who fought for the prohibition of slavery, get defaced by the very students for whom he fought for.”
Statues have been a prominent issue recently on college campuses, with the removal of the Father De Smet statue on St. Louis University’s campus and the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue on University of Texas’ campus.
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