NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – In a meeting on November 12th, the Undergraduate Student Congress approved legislation removing the words ‘Boomer’ and ‘Sooner’ from the name of the Sooner Freshman Council.
The act passed by a vote of 19-8-7, and was authored by Student Government Association President Adran Gibbs, who says those two words could be offensive to Native Americans.
In a statement sent to News 4, Gibbs said the following:
“Last September, the SGA passed and signed into our Code Annotated an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement that was meant to be more respectful of Indigenous history in Norman. In accordance with that Acknowledgement, this legislation allows us to be more cognizant of the language we are using within our organization. The Sooner Freshman Council falls under the Executive Branch in the Student Government Association and thus the mandate was given.
This is not a mandate for the University of Oklahoma, any affiliated departments/organizations, but simply a way to be more consistent with our own policies.
We hope to be a more inclusive organization for all students, no matter their identity, and will always strive to listen to student concerns to the best of our ability.”
The new legislation does not apply to any other organization or university policies, just the Sooner Freshman Council.
Some students can understand the goal behind the change, but they don’t think it was something that needed to happen.
“Feels like a delayed reaction to a historical fact. I’d say that ‘Boomer’ and ‘Sooner’ were terms coined at the time, and have been something that’s set and established,” OU Junior Nicholas Homsher told News 4. “Changing them now would be more considerate towards Native Americans [and] their residence in the state, [but] it’s also erasing part of history.”
The history of ‘Boomers’ and ‘Sooners’ dates back 127 years to before Oklahoma was even a state.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, allowing settlers to claim 160 acres of public land.
‘Boomers’ were settlers who wanted to claim land in the Oklahoma Territory, or unassigned lands.
President Benjamin Harrison opened the Unassigned Lands for settlement, which led to the ‘Oklahoma Land Run’ on April 22, 1889.
At noon, settlers received the signal to stake their claims.
However, there were people who arrived before the start time and were called ‘Sooners.’
OU athletic teams adopted the ‘Sooner’ nickname in 1908.
“It`s part of the tradition here – Boomer and Sooner,” Oklahoma Junior Malcolm Lews said. “I don’t think the name is going anywhere as far as the school overall is concerned.”