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'There isn't enough transparency:' OU Law students critique administrative response to 'mass exposure'

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The OU College of Law.

An OU Law student posted a Twitter thread Sunday evening criticizing the OU College of Law leadership for not informing students of a 'mass exposure' event in the college.

Ben Anderson, a second-year law student, tweeted several screenshots Sunday evening which show an email from Brent Dishman, the OU College of Law's assistant dean of student affairs.

The email was sent only to first-year law students, Anderson said, and stated the administration was aware of what Dishman referred to as a "COVID-19 mass exposure event."

In the screenshots, one student admitted to attending the gathering after displaying symptoms earlier in the week and testing positive for COVID-19 after the gathering. The student says they have not been to the college since testing positive.

"The lack of communication about possible positives in our incredibly small part of campus is deeply disturbing," Anderson wrote in a tweet. "We deserve to know when things like this happen. People are scared, people are at risk, families are at risk. We are not asking that you identify students, just cases."

In the email, Dishman encourages students involved with the event  to "re-accomplish" the university's COVID-19 screening tool. Anderson said until early Monday morning, students outside of the first-year class were not informed of the event by administrators. An email alert has since been sent to all OU law students.

Since his tweets, Anderson said he has been contacted by college administrators and will have a meeting this afternoon.

"We all knew we'd be taking a little heat from this," Anderson said. "Pointing out administrative failures as you see them doesn't necessarily make people happy."

Anderson said he felt the need to post the information on social media after concerned OU law students became frustrated with the college's lack of communication.

"We were getting to the point where we felt as a group, me included, that there just wasn't enough transparency," Anderson said. "There isn't enough transparency. We don't agree with the policies the university has put forth, we don't agree that anyone who doesn't want to be on campus should be forced to."

Anderson said while he and other law students recognize the university's efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, he feels it "just isn't enough."

At 5:14 p.m. on Aug. 31, Dishman released official comments from the OU College of Law.

"I was informed Sunday evening that a group of first year (1L) law students attended a house party where a non-law student was positive for COVID-19," Dishman wrote in the email. "Upon hearing this, I sent an email to the 1L class reminding them of their responsibility to complete the return to campus screening tool and follow all directions received thereafter before returning to class."

Dishman wrote faculty who teach first-year law students were also informed of the event. After the first email was sent to first year students, Dishman wrote second and third-year students informed him of "their classmates behaving in a similar fashion" which led to "an email similar to the one sent to 1Ls" being sent to "the entire law school community."

"We are taking numerous precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the College of Law, but ultimately our ability to continue with in-person instruction will depend on our collective commitment to protecting each other and ourselves," Dishman wrote. "Our students have followed all in-building precautions, and we know that they appreciate the need to act toward the common good."

Editor's note: This post was updated at 9: a.m. on Aug. 1 to include official comments from the OU College of Law.

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