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OU Interfraternity Council hosts lecture on campus racism, presents opportunity to learn from OU's past

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Know Better/Do Better lecture

Lawrence Ross, author of "The Divine Nine" and "Blackballed," talks to the entire OU Interfraternity Council at the "Know Better/Do Better" lecture in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom on Sept. 4.

OU’s Interfraternity Council hosted an event Wednesday on campus racism and how it manifests.

The lecture, "Know Better/Do Better," was presented by author Lawrence Ross to all IFC chapters on campus in hopes of combating campus racism. Ross is the author of "The Divine Nine" and "Blackballed," which both address issues of race on college campuses. 

Members of OU’s greek community have been involved with racist incidents in the past. In spring 2019, a then-Tri Delta member participated in a blackface video, and in 2015, Sigma Alpha Epsilon members were recorded singing a racist song. 

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students David Surratt attended the lecture and talked with Ross before it began. Surratt said that the event was an educational opportunity to learn from OU’s past from both organizational and institutional perspectives. 

“The first part is to be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations,” Surratt said. “This is about educating someone who’s new to our campus about our hopes and expectations around the values that we want to perpetuate around inclusivity and empathizing with other people’s experiences.”

During the lecture, Ross touched on subjects such as the four areas of campus racism, campus symbolism and campus activism. Ross also explained the connection between campus history and its relationship with racism. 

“You are not responsible for your organization’s history — you are responsible from this point on,” Ross said. 

Interfraternity Council President Matthew Goodell said the event was important to address the issue of campus racism and what steps must be taken for the future.

“(The event assures) to freshmen that it’s a real issue,” Goodell said. “Also (the event shows) accountability, making sure that they’re aware of the issue and pushing towards that change in the future.” 

Goodell said he has seen racist incidents himself in his three years on campus, and that he hopes the event will educate and show members how to be a positive role models. 

“For the incoming freshmen, they haven’t had the education before behind the history of racism and how it manifests itself on college campuses,” Goodell said.  “The most important takeaway is the history behind it, the realization that it’s on college campuses everywhere, and how to be a part of the positive change.” 

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