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OU Faculty Senate releases statement on sit-in, supports students

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Faculty Senate Meeting (copy)

Chair Joshua Nelson deliberates with the Faculty Senate on priorities for the upcoming year on Sept. 9, 2019.

Members of the OU Faculty Senate Executive Committee released a statement on the ongoing Evans Hall sit-in making recommendations to faculty members “who are committed to enacting change and supporting the demands of students for more just and equitable educational experiences.”

Faculty members listed on the document, which includes Faculty Senate Chair Joshua Nelson and 10 other professors, wrote that the group is committed to working with students, faculty, staff and administrators to strengthen the university’s infrastructure aimed at disrupting and dismantling racism on campus.

“In our continued efforts to support students, faculty, and staff in disrupting and dismantling systemic racism across the university, we understand that enacting long-term, systemic change requires time, multiple approaches, and vigilance,” the statement said. “As faculty we may not always be able to directly and overtly respond to events in the moment, but we can provide support to our students and these efforts in multiple ways.”

The recommendations in the statement read as follows:

  1. “Specific policy concerning attendance requirements . . . is the responsibility of the individual instructor” (Faculty Handbook, 4.19).

  1. Consider alternative and accessible learning opportunities outside of the regular classroom for students who choose to join in this collective and direct action.

  1. Educate yourself about the issues, concerns, and demands outlined by students.

  1. Utilize this learning opportunity to engage your students in critical and on-going dialogue about the issues at hand.

  1. Work with your colleagues and departments to consider individual and collective commitments to supporting calls to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion; create a more diverse curriculum; and dismantle systemic racism

  1. Commit to listening to, learning with, and standing in solidarity with marginalized communities to dismantle and disrupt oppressive structures and systems on campus.

The sit-in comes after two professors in the last two weeks used racial slurs in class. 

Peter Gade, director of graduate studies for the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Gaylord Family endowed chair, compared use of the N-word to use of the phrase “OK, boomer” in a journalism capstone class.

History professor Kathleen Brosnan read the N-word multiple times from a historical document on Tuesday.

Scott Kirker is a letters and Spanish senior and assistant news managing editor for The Daily. Previously he worked as summer editor-in-chief and as a news reporter covering research and administrative searches.

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