A Twitter account run by an unknown individual posted screenshots that showed members of an OU College Republicans group chat condoning racist incidents as well as making racist jokes.
The screenshots show multiple GroupMe message chains posted by a Twitter account named @jamgoogly. Though it is unclear who the individual who posted the messages is, the messages show members of the group claiming two racist incidents that occurred in the OU community recently were not racist. Members of the group also made derogatory jokes themselves.
A THREAD: These are a series of very troubling and offensive things such as racism, Islamophobia, and more that've been shared in the OU College Republicans groupchat. The 1st set of messages regard the man seen in blackface on campus on Jan 23 @OUDaily @UofOklahoma @OU_SGA pic.twitter.com/sEhC6SXe7P— Jam Googly (@JamGoogly) March 7, 2019
The majority of the messages in question were sent by OU students Jonathon Tolle, Paul Conners and Otto Wimer. Wimer ran for Student Government Association president in 2018 and lost to current President Adran Gibbs. The messages also included aggressive comments about former College of International Studies Dean Suzette Grillot.
The individual who posted the screenshots said they "collected them from a variety of concerned sources," and they are not a member of the College Republicans.
OU Vice President for Marketing and Communications Lauren Brookey told The Daily via text that she has asked the Vice President for Student Affairs David Surratt to investigate.
In reference to an individual seen walking on OU's campus in blackface in January, Tolle sent a message to the group saying that wearing blackface did not make the individual racist.
"I live everyday where people blatantly say racist sh-- towards white people as if it's normal and nor racist," Tolle said in a message.
Several members of the organization told Tolle they disagreed with him, including OU College Republicans President Logan Schoonover, who said, "We all think there is something wrong with this." Conners said in another message that the university should not give in to "backlash."
During a conversation between Tolle and Wimer about two OU students involved in a blackface incident that included a racial slur, Tolle said the girls involved were not racist. Wimer sent a message saying that racist jokes did not equal a racist person. During this same conversation, another member of the message Preston Parks called "hypersensitivity" to the n-word was "really f------ infantile."
The large group of messages also included Tolle saying not to play the card game Uno with Mexicans because "They'll take all your greencards."
Another message chain resulting from Grillot calling for OU President James Gallogly's resignation in January showed Tolle, Wimer and another individual named Joe McCarthy discussing whether or not they would win a physical fight against Grillot. Wimer said he'd "wipe the floor" with Grillot and Tolle said he'd "break her f------ kneecaps."
Throughout all these discussions, several members of the group asked the responsible individuals to stop having racist discussions, and Schoonover removed Tolle and Conners at some point. Both individuals were added back to the group at some point, which sparked a conversation about whether or not their racist comments should be allowed.
Schoonover released a written statement via email regarding the screenshots, saying the comments included were "extremely inappropriate."
"On Thursday, March 7th, screenshots of extremely inappropriate comments made by a small group of individuals in the College Republicans GroupMe surfaced on social media," Schoonover said. "As an Executive Board, we wish to make clear in the most explicit and strongest terms possible that this rhetoric is unacceptable, and our organization does not condone it."
Schoonover said adding the members back to the group message was heavily discussed by the group's leadership.
"The decision to add these members back into the GroupMe several days after they were removed for making deplorable comments was a decision discussed at length as an Executive Board, as we thought after our statement issued as an organization condemning the second blackface incident on campus, the individuals would understand that their language was unwelcome in our group. However, our mistake was thinking we could change hearts and minds overnight," Schoonover said. "We are deeply sorry to those who have been hurt by these comments, and the individuals that made them have been permanently removed from our organization."
The Daily has reached out to OU's administration and will update our coverage with any updates on this situation.
Correction: This story was updated at 8:58 a.m. to correct the spelling of Paul Conners' name in one instance, and to reflect the correct spelling of the word "backlash."