White OU Students Sue Claiming Racial Discrimination In Financial Aid Opportunities

Three students are suing the University of Oklahoma, claiming they were discriminated against and missed out of scholarship opportunities because they are white.

Thursday, May 16th 2024, 3:40 pm

By: Storme Jones, News 9


Three students are suing the University of Oklahoma, claiming they were discriminated against because they are white.

In a 22-page class action lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday, the students claim they missed out on scholarship opportunities because of their skin color. 

“That is going to be a tough hill for them to climb,” Oklahoma City trial attorney and legal analyst Ed Blau said.

OU senior Kayla Savage claims in the lawsuit that an OU admissions office told her that "financial aid was generally not available to students like her, but would have been if she were African American."

The lawsuit argues that Savage, master’s student Brayden Johnson, and junior Logan Rhines “would have received additional financial aid from the University of Oklahoma if the Defendants (OU) did not engage in racial discrimination when awarding financial aid."

The lawsuit points to “race-based programs” the University hosts in an effort to increase diversity. One event highlighted is called “Welcome Black Weekend.” The lawsuit claims, “The racially exclusionary nature of the program is not subtle.”

“It is going to be very difficult for them to make their case unless they have either some sort of whistleblower or somebody on the inside who can say ‘this white student did not get this money because we had an earmarked for this African American student.’” Blau said.

The students have filed for class action status, allowing others to join the suit. They’re being represented by Ryan Haynie with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and David Thompson, a Washington, D.C. attorney.

“The United States Supreme Court has been clear that racial discrimination has no place in our nation’s universities,” Thompson told News9 in a statement. “The ban on racial discrimination extends to financial aid decisions. And we intend to hold the University of Oklahoma to account for its illegal conduct.”

The lawsuit names the University of Oklahoma and four OU officials, including President Joseph Harroz Jr.

The University of Oklahoma responded on Friday with a statement following the lawsuit:

“The University of Oklahoma takes seriously its obligation to students and to properly administer financial aid. While we cannot comment on the specifics of ongoing litigation, our policies and procedures adhere to applicable laws."
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