OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma Christian University recruiter was fired last week for telling students at Harding Charter Preparatory High School to line up from darkest to lightest skin and “nappiest” to straightest hair.
Today, the president of OC, John deSteiguer went to Harding Charter Prep to personally apologize and meet with students to hear their thoughts.
“I’m very ashamed and embarrassed. I’m mad about this. This doesn’t represent Oklahoma Christian, so I just want to apologize to the students,” deSteiguer said.
He also gave a statement at OC the day before, thanking the students for speaking up about their concerns.
“I believe that mistreating people and especially because of skin color is a sin. What this recruiter did is not who Oklahoma Christian is and not what I want Oklahoma Christian to be,” he said in the address.
One Harding Charter Prep parent says she appreciates the apology but wants more to be done.
“One of the things the representative said was ‘[it was] one day,’ and I probably disagree with that. Yeah, it was just one day, but this is a lifetime of pain, and it just perpetuates some of the stuff and the things [the students] have already experienced,” Bessie Hamilton said. “I don’t think it’s enough. I don’t know if I think perhaps they should offer the students scholarships. I think maybe they could do some type of concert or bring in an artist or something of somebody who would be culturally sensitive, understanding what the children- the students- just experienced.”
Harding Charter Prep principal Steven Stefanick also says he appreciates the gesture and hopes it’s the beginning of a better dialogue.
“An apology is always just words in my opinion. I do think it was a great initiative for the university to come here so hastily and speak to our students, they didn’t have to do that,” he said. “I give trust in universities to bring someone in to represent them the right way. I don’t think ill will of the university itself, this was one individual, not the entire campus, but I do think there’s room for improvement,” he said.
Improvement is what parents want to see as well.
“Many times we don’t want conflict to happen, but I think it’s necessary because it pushes us to a place to make changes. That’s all we want,” Hamilton said.
deSteiguer also said in his statement at OC that the university will put implement programs like mandatory cultural sensitivity training for employees.