NORMAN, Okla. – Thursday was a busy day at the University of Oklahoma.
An evening event sought to offer support for OU President Jim Gallogly, whose responses to the week of racist incidents drew criticism. Engineering student Christopher Glenn tells News 4 he responded with something sweet as a peace-offering to bring people together.
“There’s been a lot of hatred on campus and I think there needs to be a lot more love,” said Glenn. “I know some things need to change on campus, maybe we can start with some cake.”
This, after a midday movement brought hundreds of students and staff, dressed in black, marching through campus for the Better Together rally. It was the students’ organized response to two blackface incidents that have taken place between Friday and Wednesday.
“I think it’s more about breaking bread and in this case, cake, to get people together,” said student Jordan Cosby.
In the food court of the student union, Glenn sliced a large cake that read ‘Thank You President Gallogly.’
Glenn says he even had a one-on-one meeting with the university president hours before he cut into the cake thanking him.
“It was a great meeting, really personal,” he said. “I wish every student had the opportunity, which is unrealistic. I was just lucky to get in there and talk to him.”
Glenn says he simply caught Gallogly in between meetings Thursday.
Attendees say the president shouldn’t be blamed for the racist incidents that occurred in the last week. Hunter Martinez-Buehrer applauds the Black Student Association’s efforts to jointly oppose any discrimination on campus. But, he says the crowds have, at times, strayed from their focus.
“Instead of anti-racism, they’re going anti-Gallogly,” he said. “Which was evident at the end of the Rally to Stop Racism with all the attacks, and with the terminated dean of international studies throwing a paper at his face. I just do not think that was acceptable.”
President Gallogly was absent from both Glenn’s rally and the Better Together march, but released the following statement:
“Today we expect our students to continue respectful dialogue at multiple gatherings and marches to address the important issues of racism and equity that have been the theme of meetings across campus in the past week. Campuses have been historically been an important place for individuals with different experiences, opinions, and values to come together and be heard and achieve change.
“As president of OU, I want to make it clear that I consider student, faculty, and staff voices essential to debates on important issues. The opportunity for real change comes when the voices are raised in a civil and respectful manner, listening occurs, and the energy is focused on improving systems now and for future generations.
“There are a number of actions currently being vetted with key stakeholders which I hope to share soon. In the past week, I have had intense discussions with students, input from faculty and staff, and feedback from both inside and outside out university community. You have my assurance I am committed to creating a culture on campus where everyone feels safe and welcome as they continue the pursuit of learning and civil dialogue.”