Last Friday, we all witnessed a shocking and racist video involving students from our University. This video was recorded off campus, in a private setting and was not part of any University organized activity. These circumstances create legal boundaries for how we can respond as a public University.
Those students will not return to campus. This type of behavior is not welcome here and is condemned in the strongest terms by me and by our University. This behavior does not reflect the values and principles of our University, our community and our state.
This video signals to me that we have much more to do to create an environment of equity and respect. We must be purposeful to create authentic measures to address and abolish racist experiences for our students, faculty and staff.
As President of the University of Oklahoma, I am committed to listening to our students, faculty and staff especially those of color who have been so hurt by this event. On Sunday afternoon, I spent considerable time with multicultural leaders, leaders from our student government association, student athletes and others who were personally and emotionally impacted by the demeaning video and other events that occur because of their identity. I plan to meet with these groups again very soon.
Their theme to me was clear: OU must work towards cultural change at every level. No one should have to worry about being mistreated and offended while pursuing their degrees or working at our University. Everyone deserves a healthy and respectful place to live, learn and work.
I am committed to being transparent as we work together to listen and form next steps for our University community. The University is a place for excellence, inclusivity and caring for one another.
I am also committed to engaging all students, faculty and staff in plans to: first, increase efforts to recruit more students, faculty and staff of color on campus; second, to review our code of conduct to make it as rigorous as possible in addressing inequality and racism; and third, ensure that our campus inclusion programs and training are robust and impactful.
Every day I hear the clock tower from my office window. It reminds me that I am on a university campus that both represents all that we hold dear about the collegiate experience and, at the same time, is a reflection of our times. My sincerest wish is that we approach our highs and our lows with a humble heart and a commitment to learning and character.
As we celebrate today the life of a man dedicated to equity and inclusivity and the value of every human, I ask all to come together to help me as we seek the opportunities to grow and learn from each other. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I ask you to hold his ideals high as we work toward a new more inclusive and caring future for our University.