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4 things to know about what happened at the Rally to Stop Racism

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James Gallogly

OU President James Gallogly speaks at the Rally to Stop Racism Jan. 22.

The Rally to Stop Racism, a student-led OU event that was supposed to address the aftermath of a racist video, erupted into an administration dispute Tuesday after a former dean called for OU President James Gallogly's immediate resignation. 

The event, which included several scheduled speakers during the beginning half, involved 30 minutes of open mic time, during which former College of International Studies dean Suzette Grillot delivered remarks and directly addressed Gallogly. 

Several news issues from the past four days converged during the rally. Here are four things to know about what occurred at the Rally to End Racism: 

1) Grillot, whose position as the dean of the College of International Studies was terminated Jan. 18, was the final open mic speaker before Gallogly's scheduled address, and ended her speech by looking directly at Gallogly, calling for his resignation and dropping a poster in his lap that said "Resign now."

Grillot's termination was part of a larger series of upcoming cuts to her college that will shut down OU's Rio de Janeiro study abroad program. Several student speakers at the rally had already expressed sadness at the cuts, saying that cutting back on international studies would not help diversity at the university.

The former dean's remarks Tuesday condemned the racist video and systemic racism that were the focus of the rally, but also echoed student frustration with the cuts to the College of International Studies, and focused the frustration on Gallogly. 

“Enough is enough,” Grillot said at the rally. “No more racism. No more, no more, no more. And I’m not gonna be as kind as the people that came before me and say in a year from now we’re going to ask for your resignation. I’m going to fucking ask for it now.” 

Grillot left the stage area to a standing ovation.

2) Gallogly stood to speak after Grillot and immediately turned the narrative on her, telling audience members that when he came to OU and asked college leaders for their ideas on improving diversity, one dean emailed him back to tell him they didn't have time to address the issue.  

"I want to tell you just one very simple thing about that — so many people gave me ideas that they were working on," Gallogly said. "...One dean wrote back and said 'I'm too busy — I don't have time for that.' She just asked me to resign."

Grillot immediately refuted Gallogly's assertion from her spot at the back of the room, while the rest of the audience was lost to shouting.

3) Several students and one faculty member eventually regained the floor for Gallogly, asking that the rally remain on focus.

"This is not what we're here for, OK," a student yelled from the back of the room. "Let's focus on what we're here for — we're here to talk about the blackface incident." 

As Gallogly began to refocus, the room was interrupted by a student claiming to be a third person in the racist video released Jan. 18. Audience members quickly shut the student down, attempting to return the rally to its original purpose.

Gallogly's attempts to begin speaking again were met with boos from the audience, until a faculty member called the room to attention and asked that audience members listen to and respect Gallogly's coming remarks.   

4) Gallogly was momentarily speechless as he returned to the microphone.

"I'm at the point where I really don't know what to say, and that's never happened in my career before," Gallogly told the audience. "Not one time in my career have I ever had a moment like this where I really don't know what to say."

Gallogly went on to address the reason OU's Board of Regents had selected him as president, saying he was chosen for his financial expertise and returned because of his love for the university.

The president's voice was tinged with anger as he defended himself, telling audience members he knows some of them have hatred for him and want him to fail. He said Friday's racist video did not represent the university he loves and wants to improve. 

"This is not the OU that I know. This is not the OU that I love," Gallogly said. "There is a great deal of hatred in this room about some people who have severely misbehaved — they were racist, they did things wrong, and I was not part of that. I immediately condemned it." 

Gallogly went on to ask that students hold him accountable as he works to improve diversity, but emphasized that he had nothing to do with the creation or release of the racist video, and could only work to make things better moving forward. 

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