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OU President Joseph Harroz outlines fall mask requirements, football game plans, more in Tulsa World interview

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Joseph Harroz

OU President Joseph Harroz during the OU Board of Regents meeting May 9.

OU President Joseph Harroz announced mandatory masking for students this fall, said masks are going to be a “key part” of OU football home games and announced a written, comprehensive plan for how the university will handle diversity, equity and inclusion.

Harroz spoke in an interview Tuesday — which also featured Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis — made available to the public Wednesday and done by Tulsa World editorial pages editor Wayne Greene. 

Here are the three major takeaways from the interview:

Harroz said masks will be required in classrooms for all students this fall, saying masking is “an essential part” of “(being) together in those spaces.”

“In the classroom, everyone will need to have a mask on to allow it to be safe for those that are in there,” Harroz said. “... Even if you’re not at risk, others are. ... The answer (to whether student mask-wearing will be required) is yes.”

Harroz also said masks will be a “key part” of hosting football games, but the university hasn’t announced the specifics yet. Harroz also discussed the university’s plan for stadium occupancy, saying “it’s speculation about just how full these stadiums are going to be,” and the university will have answers about football in mid- to late-July.

“I don’t think you can say (there’s a zero chance of suspending football) just because this is such an unpredictable virus,” Harroz said. “I can tell you that right now, it’s our belief that we’ll have it and be playing football. Now, there’s obviously questions about conference versus nonconference games, and how you manage those. The current plan is to play all of them, but as we’ve said a lot, we don’t control this virus — it may control us.”

Harroz also discussed OU’s plan to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, saying the university put together a 500-page comprehensive plan that provides metrics for success and failure on issues such as student and employee diversity and unconscious bias hiring training for administrators. 

“The answer to this is not more speeches,” Harroz said. “The answer to this is not a program. The answer is not trying to avoid a problem in the future. The answer is to boldly and honestly look at the problems — that are systemic, that are embedded into society — to address those honestly, to find out how they can be handled to put a plan in place, and not just to measure successes — which college presidents are great at trumpeting — but also be honest about your failures and make progress.”

Beth Wallis is a senior journalism major and political science minor, and news managing editor for The Daily. Previously, she worked as a junior news reporter covering university research.

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