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Missouri lawmaker files resolution calling for removal of UMKC chancellor


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the fallout over the response to an on-campus assault at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) last week continues, a Republican state representative has filed a resolution calling for the removal of the school’s chancellor.

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal came under fire for his response to a student who was arrested for allegedly assaulting Michael Knowles, a controversial conservative speaker invited to campus by a student group. The UMKC student was arrested for allegedly spraying a liquid substance at the speaker, who was invited to the public university’s campus by its Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) group, and others.

State Rep. Justin Hill

Filed by Rep. Justin Hill, a Republican, the resolution says the House calls on University of Missouri System President Mun Y. Choi “to exercise his authority” in asking for Agrawal’s resignation.

“Be it further resolved that if [Agrawal] fails to resign from his position as chancellor that we, the members of the Missouri House of Representatives … hereby encourage [Choi] to dismiss [Agrawal] from his position of Chancellor of the University of Missouri Kansas City campus,” HR 2020, provided to The Missouri Times, states.

Agrawal initially praised the students who demonstrated against the guest speaker, saying the “UMKC community responded in the best way — by organizing and conducting a counter-event across campus … that focused on positive messages about diversity and inclusion.”  

Agrawal has since apologized for any misconception born from his initial remarks and reaffirmed the university’s commitment to “support freedom of expression for all” and “to rise to the higher principle of promoting a respectful exchange of ideas for our students to form their own views and engage in critical thinking.”

Hill’s resolution was filed Tuesday, and a UMKC representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Missouri Times.

“This resolution rightly calls out UMKC Chancellor Agrawal’s embarrassing and shameful letter that praised protestors and attacked YAF speaker Michael Knowles,” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown told The Missouri Times. “Refusing to respect the First Amendment rights of all students is unacceptable and unconstitutional on a public campus such as UMKC.”

“[YAF] agrees that Chancellor Agrawal has demonstrated his ‘lack of fitness’ for the position of Chancellor and joins these legislators in their call for the resignation or dismissal of Chancellor Agrawal,” he continued.

On Monday, Republican state Sen. David Sater suggested Agrawal resign in the wake of the incident.

“As far as I’m concerned, he should go,” Sater said from the Senate floor.

Democratic state Sen. Jason Holsman, on the other hand, said “anything short of denouncing that violence falls short,” but rejected calls to reduce any funding provided to the university which is in his district. He also encouraged lawmakers to direct any reprimand at the chancellor, not any students who attend the university.

Sater suggests UMKC chancellor resign in wake of on-campus assault