Op Ed: Inclusivity on Campus

By Blessing Ikpa

I’m grateful for SAE. Truly, I am. That may come as a shock to some, but I’m grateful that true colors of certain people were shown on that fateful party bus. I’m proud that the University and the SAE National Chapter acted as swiftly as they did. From this (not isolated) incident, topics can be introduced. The tough conversations can start to be had, and the floor opened for discussions.

Studying abroad in a foreign country has given me the necessary space to take a step back, and truly examine how OU operates. This unfortunate SAE incident is not the first, or the last, that an aspect of racism will rear its ugly head. Everyone has come together as a community and let these young men know that what they did was wrong. Their actions were shameful for the University, their fraternity, and their families. When they were saying “Nigger”, it felt like they were talking to me. To my family, my Black friends, my community. Hearing that word rips me apart inside because I can feel the deeply rooted pain of my ancestors. The pain of both my parents who immigrated to America from Nigeria in order to give me and my siblings a better life. Feeling these emotions has given me clarity and premonition about what could happen next, on what the next topic of discussion can be in the face of this tragedy that has hurt many people across campus.

Which brings me to this: Inclusivity.

 

I’ve been doing my daily scroll through social media these last few days, and most of what I see is, “OU is SO inclusive! We are one of the most diverse campuses EVER. People have equal opportunity on our campus, for sure!”

But do they really?

Growing up in Norman, I always viewed OU as the most diverse part of Norman. Probably even all of Oklahoma. I thought that OU would have people who looked like me, other than the handful of Black people in my high school. People who were as progressive as me and could have deep discussions on tough subjects. I thought that I would finally feel included in a bigger picture.

That is, until I started getting involved.

Being a “campus leader” is all the rage throughout the OU community. If you’re not a campus leader or highly involved, then what are you doing?! I thought that I would finally get the community I have always wanted and fulfill the longings I’ve always dreamed of. As I went through my freshman year, throwing myself into activities, and into my sophomore year, things started to become strange to me. Where was the Black community? Where were all the Hispanics? Asian community? Native Americans? What about the LGBTQ community? How many of us ARE there on campus? I almost thought of myself as “better than them” because I was getting myself out there and networking with people from different crevices of campus. Until I stopped and realized what was truly going on.

When I became the Multicultural Affairs officer for the Student Government Association last semester, I was able to fully engage with the Multicultural community. I was listening. I took the blinders off of my eyes and did my research. People in the Black community, the Hispanic community, LGBTQ community, the Asian community, the Native American community….they didn’t feel as though they belonged. They didn’t think that they could be apart of these University-wide campus activities or win the big campus awards because, in a way, they weren’t made for them. Why were the same people, year after year, winning all of these OU awards–and why was there no consideration given to the Multicultural community? Why do we see the same people, over and over, in positions of leadership but hardly anyone from these communities I have mentioned (and more)? I know I can’t be the only one who sees this.

If we want to say that we are an inclusive community, the “Sooner Family,” we truly need to start acting that way. We need to start asking ourselves the hard questions. “Does such-and-such organization REALLY include everyone?” “Does my club give everyone the equal opportunity to try and succeed?” Feelings are hurt all over campus. People are let down. People are scared. People’s hearts are bleeding. Those men in the video showed us, and told us, that people of minority are not welcome. They are not valued on this campus. Their joyful singing brought up old, painful wounds that cannot be covered with a band-aid this time. People are demanding answers now. We need to make sure that every single person on this campus feels as though they have the opportunity to be included as much, or as little, as they want to be. We can no longer act as if we are the most diverse and inclusive University to have ever lived unless we take a step back and see the hidden problems.

If we are who we say we are, we need to start acting like it.

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Current Events: AP U.S. History

By Brittany Plange

On Tuesday Oklahoma lawmakers voted almost unanimously to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History classes in high schools. Why, you might ask? Because that class allegedly only teaches “what is bad about America.” The bill in question, HB 1380 sponsored by state Rep. Dan Fisher (R), would defund the current curriculum. The state would also end funds geared toward preparing students for the AP exam. When the news broke of this event the community in Oklahoma was outraged, much like the rest of the country. Within a few days petitions focused on ending the bill were created. One in particular now has 19,241 signatures and the numbers still rise every day. In light of the massive backlash Republican lawmakers made revisions to the bill that would change the framework of the class to what lawmakers consider more “pro-American.” This translates into students being required to read 3 Reagan speeches and a speech by George W. Bush. The curriculum does not include any speeches from a democratic press after Lyndon Johnson. Ultimately the revisions have not helped ease the opposition to the bill. Fisher is not the only person opposed to AP History courses. According to Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern (R), “…AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools.” Sally Kern has asked the Oklahoma Attorney General to issue a ruling on the matter. Many students and members of the Oklahoma community are outraged and should continue to be.  We can hope that our representatives will be forced to note this.

Current Events: State of the Union

By Brittany Plange

This year’s State of the Union address was filled with lots of applause, slight shade, and promises for future. President Obama touched on various issues, ranging from net neutrality to advances in western medicine, and access to higher education. Obama spent a large portion of his time talking about the economic gains that have been made since he was elected into office and the strides his administration will be taking to ensure this success continues. President Obama also made it very clear to Congress that he plans to veto any bill that attempts to undermine the work done to healthcare, rules on Wall Street, any sanctions on Iran, and immigration. Ultimately the majority of what was said in the speech was expected, except for the historic mention of transgender people: “As Americans, we respect human dignity…and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender” (source). What was unexpected was what was not mentioned in the president’s speech. President Obama neglected to mention Boko Haram and the recent tragic events in Nigeria when discussing his administration’s plans to address terrorism on our planet. This left me wondering if the U.S. would intervene or continue to stay silent while thousands of Nigerians and citizens of Africa are being massacred. Immigration was also seemingly left out of the speech in comparison to last year’s speech when the president called for a comprehensive reform bill by this year. This may be due to the president’s recent executive order on the topic; nonetheless, we are are still entering the new year with no sign of a partisan comprehensive immigration reform bill coming out of congress.

The lack of bipartisanship is still very much present in Washington. With republican control of both the House and Senate, we may actually see a more productive congress than last year. Ultimately we will just have to wait to see what this year will hold and hope our future will be bright.