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OU administrators clarify student contracts for Camp Crimson after controversy over alleged layoffs

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Camp Crimson 2020

The flyer for the virtual 2020 Camp Crimson.

Less than a week after some Camp Crimson orientation staffers expressed frustrations on social media with their alleged exclusion from OU’s upcoming Crimson Welcome Week, university administration is working to extend those students’ contracts.

Vice President for Student Affairs David Surratt told The OU Daily in an email Friday OU’s human resources department and the Office of Student Life are attempting to extend the contracts of Camp Crimson staff members whose agreements initially expired today.

“I can indeed confirm that the Office of Student Life and HR are currently working on extending the employment agreement of orientation staff members who would like to continue their employment for Crimson Welcome Week,” Surratt said in the email. “All orientation staff members have been notified about this opportunity and next steps. Student Life is working out details of the arrangement and meeting with student staff to take their input into consideration.” 

Tuesday, angry Tweets and other social media posts from camp staffers surfaced, with several saying they had been “laid off” or “fired” by the university Monday. Other staffers, as well as university administration, later clarified to The OU Daily that camp staffers’ contracts expire Friday. 

“The university wishes to clarify reports and note that seasonal employment for Camp Crimson staff was set to expire this Friday, July 31, 2020, and no staff were laid off,” OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith said in an emailed statement to The Daily. “Camp Crimson staff are hired on a seasonal basis to support Camp Crimson. In keeping with that original agreement, staff will be compensated accordingly for hours worked through the duration of their work agreement. However, there is continued conversation about possible opportunities moving forward.”

Prior to the University’s Tuesday statement, some students were frustrated about being told they would not be allowed to participate in Crimson Welcome Week. In this summer’s virtual Camp Crimson, students were placed in small groups of 20 to 30 people and participate from June 22 to Aug. 7 in Canvas modules highlighting academics and involvement opportunities at OU. 

Crimson Welcome Week, a combination of Camp Crimson and Student Orientation Weekend scheduled for Aug. 15–18, is one of the program’s few scheduled in-person events this year.

It now appears likely those students will be allowed to participate in the activities after all.

“Our staff will have more info early next week and will be sharing it with the orientation staff members,” Surratt said in the email. “We're hopeful the solution will allow them time to engage with namesakes, small group leaders, and incoming students in meaningful ways and helping to create an environment where new students feel a sense of belonging to the OU community.”

Mason Young is a journalism sophomore and The Daily's assistant sports editor. He covers OU football and previously covered OU women's gymnastics and former Sooners in the NFL. He has also spent some time as a senior news reporter for The Daily.

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