NORMAN, Okla. – Students at the University of Oklahoma have been buzzing as a racist video featuring two students surfaced.
In the video, a girl, covered in black paint, says “I am a n****r.”
“As a woman of color, I’m hurt by the whole thing,” said senior Janae Reeves.
The sentiment is shared by classmates of different races.
“It doesn’t make sense to me as a human being why they would think that kind of behavior is okay,” said junior Marisa Nuzzo.
“This kind of thing happens a lot on campus it’s more frequent than people think,” said sophomore Taylor Stephenson.
“I could never imagine being so insensitive especially in a time when it’s obviously not okay, you’re an adult, you know right from wrong,” said sophomore Sofia Olivas.
The university released a statement, as did the Tri Delta sorority, of which one of the girls was a member. A video statement from the university was also released in which Jane Inrungu with the Office of University Community said the administration condemns the behavior. Inrungu goes on to say the university values diversity and that they have been in contact with the girls in the video and they will soon release an apology.
“We don’t want an apology, we want action,” said Olivas.
“It’s not enough,” said Nuzzo. “If they think they can say what they want with little to no consequences, nothing will change.”
“While yes it’s freedom of speech, it’s also hate speech and that’s not what we promote at the University of Oklahoma,” said Stephenson.
The students we spoke to all expected the girls in the video to be expelled. They hoped current OU President James Gallogly would follow the actions of former university president David Boren. In 2015, a video surfaced of OU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter chanting racial slurs.
In the video, you can hear the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity cheering “there will never be a nig*** in SAE.” The chant goes on to say, “you can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me.”
In response, Boren shut down the chapter and told the students involved to be off campus, permanently, within 24 hours. Students today say the apology issued by these girls will be nothing more than ‘a slap on the wrist.’
“For President Gallogly to do the complete opposite [of former president Boren], and to allow these students to stay on our campus, it just sends a message,” said Reeves. “If it happens again, we’ll get a statement, we’ll get an apology, and that’ll be it.”
In addition to the university response, OU President James Gallogly also released the following statement,
We are saddened and offended that even on the eve of such an important holiday for our nation we are reminded how far we have yet to come in the conversation about treating everyone with respect and dignity. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Diversity and inclusivity are and will continue to be the hallmarks of our great university. We are committed to our mission of inclusive excellence, mutual respect and civil dialogue.
We expect all of our students, staff and faculty to respect the diversity and cultural backgrounds of others. These differences should not divide us but should strengthen our community and enrich our environment and the OU family. The diversity of our university is paramount and it is our mission to build a community where everyone’s identity is respected and valued.
We were made aware of an inappropriate and derogatory video circulating on social media of two OU students. The University of Oklahoma abhors such conduct and condemns the students’ actions and behavior in the strongest terms possible. While students have the freedom of expression, the negative impact of such conduct cannot be underestimated. The students have offered to apologize in order to reflect their regret.
Together let’s each take the personal responsibility to create a welcoming and inclusive community.
The Tri Delta statement is as follows:
“Our chapter condemns the racist, offensive and disgraceful conduct of the two women involved in the video posted yesterday. More specifically, we are deeply disappointed in the actions of the one women associated with the Theta Gamma chapter of Tri Delta. The behavior documented in the video is abhorrent and is no way consistent with Tri Delta’s ideals. To those students directly impacted by this senseless act of racism, we are deeply sorry, and we know that is not enough. Chapter leadership has met and appropriate action has been taken. The woman who participated in, filmed and posted the video is no longer a member of our organization. Last night we met as a chapter and identified important next steps to help us move forward. We, as a chapter, are committed to working alongside the Panhellenic and OU community to continue an open and honest dialogue and make strides towards change.”