Whiteout Blanks Mizzou Uprising

The University of Missouri team store removed their official 2015 whiteout T-shirt from its website and stores amid racial controversy.

The whiteout shirt was created for the game against Brigham Young University, but in the face of racial tensions on campus, it was quietly taken off the shelves.

Protests regarding instances of racism on the University of Missouri campus led to the resignation of President Timothy Wolfe on Monday Nov 12. The protests included a hunger strike by graduate student Jonathan Butler.

Photo courtesy of fox6now.com Students at the University of Missouri protest on campus.

Photo courtesy of fox6now.com
Students at the University of Missouri protest on campus.

 

To show support for Butler, the Mizzou football team refrained from practicing until Butler’s strike ended. President Wolfe’s resignation brought a close to the protests and hunger strike, returned the football team to practice and allowed for the game against BYU to take place on Saturday Nov 14.

While the whiteout, which would consist of all Mizzou fans wearing white shirts at the game, was implemented ahead of events to show support for the team, the timing of the game made a whiteout at the University of Missouri inappropriate.

The team store has not talked to journalists and has yet to issue a statement about the removal of the whiteout apparel from their store. They may be trying to avoid further conflict, but refusing to discuss the decision could lead to more unwanted attention and controversy.

As a public relations professional, how would you recommend that the University of Missouri team store handle this situation? Do you think that a representative of the store should make a statement to the press about the removal of the shirts?

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3 Responses to Whiteout Blanks Mizzou Uprising

  1. Alex Sorrell says:

    My first question is wether or not there were complaints regarding the shirt. While I see how this could create controversy, it seems the store is creating more controversy than needed. I think a better approach to this would be a unified message from the school, athletic department and the team store explaining why they removed the shirt or changed the theme of the game.

    I feel that this secretive removal creates more opportunities for more controversy. In PR, open communication is everything and keeping silent can often make small issues even bigger.

  2. Morgan Rath says:

    In this case, transparency is key. I think that the team store made a great decision to pull the t-shirts off the shelves, which is why I am confused at their inability to make a statement in a timely manner to the press. Maybe they believe that they can avoid making a statement if they hold out long enough, as it seems the violence is dying down with the resignation of the university’s president; however, the store is only prolonging the inevitable. The hard part is over. The proper decision has been made and enacted. Now, the store needs to make a statement or else it risks lessening the positive impact and press that should be surrounding this good decision.

  3. Allyson Gerrard says:

    This topic makes me wonder how PR team would have handled the situation at the University of Missouri throughout the protests. This is a sensitive topic so I can see why why they removed the shirts and why no one from the store has stepped up for an interview yet. However, I also agree that refusing to be open about this can only lead to more controversy. So far the university has been very safe and cautious about their reactions. We’ve seen faculty resigning, “safe zones” for the protesters and refusal to let the media in. I would recommend the team store make it aware why they removed the shirts. I think this will show humility during a controversial time.

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