An OU Black Emergency Response Team officer said the first thing OU Provost Kyle Harper told BERT leadership during a meeting was that he would not resign, which was one of their main demands.
“So, from that meeting, we told him not only how we feel, but about how students, faculty and staff feel," said the officer, Destinee Dickson. "And I think we gave him an open dialogue, conversation, and hopefully he uses this as he continues to be in this position as provost.”
The meeting took place during BERT’s three-day sit-in and hunger strike at Evans Hall, which came after the use of racial slurs by a journalism professor and history professor during classes in the last two weeks. BERT leadership demanded Harper’s resignation because it said his response to these incidents and other racist incidents in past years has not been sufficient.
Interim OU President Joseph Harroz released a statement on Thursday, Feb. 27 that said he would not meet BERT’s demand for Harper’s resignation.
The sit-in began Wednesday, Feb. 26 and ended Friday, Feb. 28 after BERT leadership said it had reached an agreement with OU administration and most of BERT’s demands would be met, including the creation of a student advisory council to the provost’s office and a 360 review process of executive leadership beginning with Harper.
“I think we made Provost Harper realize a lot of things about his silence and inaction, and what it looks like at the university,” Dickson said. “Hopefully, he’ll make some changes, and I think that the 360 review will provide changes as well.”
BERT co-director Miles Francisco said the 360 review process, which will begin this semester, is something the university is familiar with and that more details would be released soon. The process will also be regularized for "senior executive leadership reporting to the president," according to BERT's statement after the sit-in.
“There will be a third party that'll come in,” Francisco said. “Again, that's getting done this semester, specifically on the provost’s office.”