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Enrollment at the University of Missouri is plummeting two years after the school was rocked by racially charged protests, according to a New York Times report on Monday.
Freshman enrollment at the school has fallen 35% since 2015, costing it millions of dollars in lost tuition, and leaving it desperate for funding, the Times reported.
The dropoff is especially pronounced among minority students – freshman enrollment among black students fell 42%, compared to 21% among white freshmen. The newest data continue the downward trend that officials recognized early last year.
University officials openly acknowledge the events of 2015 as having caused the dramatic decrease. Prompted by reports of racial animosity on campus, as well as the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, students formed the Concerned Student 1950 movement and set up a tent city on campus to stage protests against the school’s administration. (The group’s name refers to the year the University of Missouri admitted its first black student.)
In November 2015, the protesters joined forces with graduate student Jonathan Butler, who began a hunger strike he said would end if university system president Timothy Wolfe resigned. Aided by the school’s football team, who vowed not to play or practice until Wolfe resigned, Wolfe and school chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned in November.
Now, the university is struggling to shake its reputation and attract new students. Some prospective students shunned the school because of a perceived reputation of discrimination. One white student interviewed by The Times said he elected to attend another in-state school because he feared being painted as a racist at the University of Missouri campus.
The school is hoping to make up some of the lost revenue by renting out vacant dorm rooms for weekends with major events, such as football games and viewings of the upcoming solar eclipse in August, according to The Times.