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OU students respond to institutional racism during Better Together march, expect little change from President Gallogly

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Attendees (copy)

The front row links arms and marches silently during the Better Together March on Jan. 24.

Silence.

That’s what echoed throughout campus as hundreds of students, faculty and staff marched in all black to Evans Hall to deliver a statement of demands for change to President James Gallogly, who was absent. Silence is also what many attendees are expecting from the administration after demanding that change.

The march, which was organized yesterday in the wake of two racist incidents of blackface in Norman, went from Dale Hall, to Evans Hall, to the Union, chanting from Evans through the Union as other students looked on.

Psychology sophomore Jaylon Bruner-Vann said he decided to join the march to support the rest of the black community in light of the recent acts of racism, wearing a black hoodie that said, “WE MARCH, y’all mad, WE SIT DOWN, y’all mad, WE SPEAK UP, y’all mad, WE DIE, y’all silent.”

“It’s frustrating, just to see that our president isn’t doing much just to ... be in our corner, so, it’s time that we take action into our own hands.” Bruner-Vann said. “We’re not out here to be like violent or anything, we just want to show how important this is to us.”

First-year composition adjunct instructor Antoinette Bridgers said she attended the march in light of the recent racist events on campus to represent her students and stand in solidarity with the Black Student Association.

“It’s just kind of beautiful to see everybody here in solidarity and everybody just participating,” Bridgers said. “People uplifting each other’s voices, so that was a really beautiful experience.”

Language arts education senior Maddie Diring said she attended the march to acknowledge the part white privilege plays in the system.

“As a white person, by not attending this rally, I’m just furthering along whiteness and white success in society,” Diring said. “I’m just really here to support, let them speak, and then take what they say and share with my white friends, so that way for those that didn’t come, or if I have problematic conversations with them, then I can address it head-on.”

Meteorology freshman Ruxton Kelly said he attended the march because he felt the best way to fight the issue of racism is to come together as a university.

“We can’t do it alone, we have to come together, we need to come together in solidarity,” Kelly said.

Psychology pre-med freshman Kasie Lambert said she was surprised when the acts of racism occurred on campus over the past week and marched today because she wants to see change, although she is not optimistic the administration will make that change.

“I hope (Gallogly) does (make change), but he’s probably not,” Lambert said. “How he thinks we want him to fail, that’s not true, because his success is our success, so I hope he goes through with it.”

Diring said even if President Gallogly does not follow through with change, she believes there will be change at some point because of the passion students have for it.

“I think a big part of this is hope,” Diring said. “I don’t think that these students, I don’t think any of us are going to stop until he does (make change). So I think eventually we will see change because it’s necessary.”

Political science senior Dan Williams said he does not believe Gallogly will go through with the changes demanded by the students today, and his absence was evident of that.

“He had a chance to come out today, be present, listen, and he released a statement,” Williams said. “Maybe the man’s busy, I don’t know, but that doesn’t give me a lot of hope.”

Bruner-Vann said he felt a feeling of empowerment following the event, and felt like their voices had been “sort of heard.”

“We’re hoping it will start making a change on the campus so it becomes more of a safe space for us,” Bruner-Vann said. “The ball is in (President Gallogly’s) court now, all we can do is hope, we can pray, and then continue to move on.”

Editor-in-Chief

Jordan Miller is a journalism and political science senior serving as The Daily's Editor-in-Chief. Previously she served as The Daily's news managing editor, news editor, assistant visual editor and was an SGA beat reporter.

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