The two OU students who filmed a racist video on Friday have withdrawn from the university, but members of OU’s black community believe the university still has a ways to go before real change begins.
OU President James Gallogly addressed the university Monday afternoon after the students voluntarily withdrew, and said he talked with students and community groups on what changes they want to implement to prevent further racist incidents.
“This type of behavior is not welcome here and is condemned in the strongest terms by me and by our university,” Gallogly said. “This behavior does not reflect the values and principles of our university, our community and our state.”
Gallogly said he did not meet with the two women, identified by The Daily as Olivia Urban and Francie Ford, but that they have “deep regrets” for their behavior and have issued a written apology. The university is also investigating the possible participation of an unknown third student and will see what kind of role they took in the video to figure out if any possible repercussions from the university are necessary. The Daily has not seen a copy of any apology as of yet.
The university had limited options as to legal steps it could take, Gallogly said, since the activities in the video did not take place on campus and were not related to a university activity. He said the students did have the right to film this video under the First Amendment, but that he will work with the university’s lawyers and student groups to broaden the ability to use the Student Code of Conduct.
“This is a situation, while legal, people should choose much better judgment, recognize the kind of personal damage they can do to others,” Gallogly said. “We do have the Student Code of Conduct ... but I want to be very clear: this is not just about how we punish people. This is about affirmative steps the university should take to prevent these things in the future.”
Gallogly acknowledged that this is the second major racist incident in several years, and that shows it must be a symptom of something systemic. He also said he met with many different groups and about 25 students on Sunday for two and a half hours to discuss the incident and further steps the university might take, and to advise on the remarks he made today.
“This is not just an issue related to our black students — it’s an issue related to all students,” Gallogly said. “Since that time, I’ve also been making a number of calls to campus leaders and community leaders talking through things I may not know that they want to tell me.”
With this being the second major racist incident at OU in the past five years, Joshua Davis, industrial systems engineering junior and Intervarsity Black Campus Ministries member, said it will be on Gallogly to bring real change.
“I think we will be better and closer, but unless real change happens where there’s stuff written about changes that will come on campus, I don’t see much changing,” Davis said. “We’ll be closer now, but two months from now people will forget about it and it’ll be the same thing ... it’ll be interesting to see what happens in our near future.”
Gallogly said the two students involved could see that “our culture rejects this kind of activity,” and were surprised by the reaction of state and national news.
“Simply put, this type of racist video has no place here or anywhere else,” Gallogly said.
Gallogly said that more will be done to prevent this type of behavior in the future.
“This is a chance to speak about what we represent. It’s also a chance for a new beginning,” Gallogly said. “It’s a call to action. I see that there are additional steps that we need to take.”
Biology senior and IBCM member Skylar Thomas said the incident was important in reminding Gallogly that black students still face challenges.
“I heard that he was trying to put more people on campus that look like us, to help us feel more at home and more safe in spite of that situation,” Thomas said. “We just want to feel important on campus, and I’m glad that this happened — this shows him that we are still important, that racism still exists. We want to be here and be accepted just like everyone else.”
Thomas said students hope to build unity from this incident and prevent similar ones in the future, but they are not depending on action from the university.
“We hope for the best, we pray for the best, but not relying on (the administration),” Thomas said. “Among the students, with each other, we just pray for unity so that we can fight it ourselves. Let’s really try to get to the root of racism.”
Gallogly said students have asked him to participate in the Rally to Stop Racism Tuesday on the South Oval, and that he will attend.
“Race acts, hate crimes, hate speech, should not be tolerated,” Davis said. “If anybody commits acts of racism and it’s found to be public on social media, whether they did it in private or in public on campus, they need to be held accountable and there needs to be repercussions for doing so. I feel like the president should give a speech, walk with us, but really truly show his solidarity with the OU community.”