Loftin"Your stony silence...."

By Jordan Hoyt, Special to the Heart Beat

COLUMBIA, Mo 9/19/15 (Op Ed) --
An open letter to Mizzou Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin: 

You know me.  We’ve met many times.

I am an active and vocal graduate student leader, currently earning my second degree from the University of Missouri. 

I am a taxpayer, a homeowner, and a registered voter. 

I am a native Columbian and a lifelong resident of this amazing city. 

I love my city.   I love our passion and our diversity.   I love our citizens and the voices they give to the issues that are important to them. 

I love that we are one of the most educated cities in the nation, thanks to the many institutions of higher education that call Columbia home.  

However, I do not believe that you have had the opportunity to cultivate such a love for your new home.   If you had, you would know that Columbia needs people to care for it intensely and unwaveringly.   You would know that your graduate students do an immense service for this city.  We work in hospitals, schools, government, city offices, local businesses and restaurants.  We are interns, fellows, researchers, and graduate employees; mentors, parents, friends, and caregivers.

We love what we do because, when we set aside our shamefully low income; lack of housing; up-in-the air health  insurance; funding cuts; skyrocketing student loans; the university’s blatant disregard for the weight we pull; and your stony silence in the face of racism perpetrated against your students, we find that we are still privileged enough to be able to pursue our dreams in higher education.

Ours is a privilege borne of choice.
We have a right to choose how and where we enhance and employ our education, and your decision to sever ties with Planned Parenthood infringes on that right.  It is a disservice to your students and your community.  

In ending this relationship, you have diminished our capacity to serve our community’s needs, and destroyed a decades-long partnership that has benefited students, faculty, and the population served by our local Planned Parenthood. 

This population needs preventative cancer screenings, breast exams, STI testing, well-woman exams, family planning services, and educational outreach:  services students and faculty who choose to work with Planned Parenthood are well qualified to provide.


I’m writing to ask you:  Where does this end?

If the University of Missouri -- a public, land grant institution dedicated to higher education -- will bend to the threats of  misinformed, biased, witch-hunting politicians at the cost of their students’ educational enrichment, then why would any student choose to come here? 

What benefit is there in coming to an institution that doesn’t value your community, work, family, intelligence, diversity, or freedom of choice?  

What other carefully cultivated partnerships will be hastily broken, without input from the faculty and students who are directly impacted by such a decision, before you realize your faculty, staff, and students are the heart of your work here?  

Chancellor Loftin, I’m writing to tell you that your heart is still beating.   It’s pounding in your ears, in fact, and it’s only going to get louder.  

Perhaps it’s time to start marching to its beat.

-- Jordan Hoyt is a Columbia native and a graduate student in Public Health at the University of Missouri.