More than 12 hours has passed since a group of Oklahoma University students staged a hunger strike on campus, about 75 still remain.

They’re demanding accountability following two racial incidents involving professors this month.

After closing its doors at 5 p.m. students and the media who weren’t already inside were prevented from entering.

Throughout the day food, water, and blankets have poured in from friends and supporters.

OU’s Black Emergency Response Team (BERT) plans to stay until a list of demands has been met. They briefly emerged from a closed-door meeting with President Joseph Harroz only to say they hadn’t yet come to an agreement.

 

They’re demanding actions after two recent incidents involving professors using a racial slur during class.  

"I think it's going to really wake up the administration here and help them realize like this is a serious problem that we're having and it's very uncomfortable to be here,” said student Camryn Snowden.

Their list of demands includes:

The resignation of the university’s provost Kyle Harper

Mandatory equity training for faculty

Semester long diversity training

And a new multicultural center.

"As far as the students, bravo for them but at some point, the adults in the house must indeed act like adults in the house. I'm talking about faculty, staff, and administration. Students are still doing the work of faculty and staff. Enough of that,” said administrator Dr. George Henderson.

The university released the following statement Wednesday night: 

February 26, 2020

We join with OU’s concerned and hurt students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends, and we echo the need for equal respect for everyone. Our community has experienced incidents in the last two weeks that have certainly caused pain, but more importantly have been reminders of trauma caused by racism and structural issues both past and present. As a University, one of our responsibilities is to not simply reflect society, but to engage in productive, positive discourse, come together, and make society better.  

Today, a group of students, who speak for themselves and others, instituted a sit-in and with it, issued a list of specific concerns and demands. This evening, we had the opportunity to sit with the students to better understand their concerns. We identified areas of agreement that will move our University forward. We have agreed to continue these discussions. We will also advance these conversations with other student, faculty, and staff leadership.

Strong communication and actions – not merely words, press events, or public statements – are the only path to a better tomorrow. Together, we can achieve permanent change, and we are committed to doing just that. 

Sincerely,

Joseph Harroz, Jr.
Interim President

Dr. Belinda Higgs Hyppolite
Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Dr. David Surratt
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students