OU Launching New 'We Are' Initiative To Address Diversity

Wednesday, September 11th 2019, 7:10 pm
By: Storme Jones

The University of Oklahoma’s interim president said the school is changing the way it approaches talking about diversity. 

At Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting, Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. said the office of diversity and inclusion will focus on defining values important to the university community, instead of being outspoken about things the community is against.

“The question is often raised, ‘could there be another racist act?’” Harroz said. “There will be. Racist acts happen every day in society and the university is simply a microcosm of that. The question isn't so much what you are opposed to, disclaiming someone's words, it’s about stating affirmatively who you are."

The university is launching an initiative called "we are", following the "not on our campus" campaign that began after a 2015 racist fraternity chant.

"If you want people to be better as a community, you have to give them some guidance. Will they always follow those? Probably not. But at least thy know what you stand for," Interim Associate Vice President for university community Dr. Jane Irungu said. 

The new initiative will include community conversations, panel discussions and book talks. The university expects to launch the "we are" website in the next few days.

"We cannot force people to be what they don't want to be, but that does not mean we cannot encourage people to be better," Dr. Irungu said.