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A former administrator says racism plagues the university.
The two University of Oklahoma students seen in a viral video in which one was in blackface saying a racist slur have since withdrawn from the university, according to a press conference held by the university’s president.
The video, originally posted to Snapchat, was shared on Twitter on Friday by a fellow UO student who identified the girls by name.
Some girls that attend OU thought it would be funny (especially Olivia Urban and Francis Ford) to put black paint on their face and say “I am a nigger” @UofOklahoma #whatareyougoingtodo ???? pic.twitter.com/ccWGnG4L7N
— gabby (@GabbyHahaa) January 18, 2019
The tweet quickly went viral, with nearly 5,000 retweets as of Tuesday morning. The video shows the original Snapchat playing on a phone, with the girls screaming enthusiastically. A white woman with black paint on her face dances while another white woman screams, “It’s too much!” and then laughs. She then says, “It’s paint, not face [inaudible].”
It ends with the second white woman hugging her from the back and smiling, when the woman in blackface says, “I am a ni**-ro.”
TriDelta, a sorority on campus, responded to the viral tweet and acknowledged one of the students is a member, calling the incident “insensitive and offensive.” A day later, the sorority announced that the member involved in the video had been expelled.
An updated statement from the OU Tri Delta Chapter President London Moore. pic.twitter.com/aglAiAnyH4
— Tri Delta (@TriDelta) January 19, 2019
However, on Monday, University of Oklahoma’s President Jim Gallogly clarified that the students will simply “not be returning.” He said given that the incident took place off-campus and was not part of an “organized university activity,” there were “legal boundaries” for how the university could take actions against it. Therefore, the women were not expelled but left on their own.
“This type of behavior is not welcome here and is condemned in the strongest terms by me and by our university,” he said. “This behavior does not reflect the values and principles of our university, our community, or our state.”
“This video signals to me that we have much more to do to create an environment of equity and respect,” he continued. “We must be purposeful to create authentic measures to address and abolish racist experiences for our students, faculty, and staff.”
OU President, Jim Gallogly, will be addressing the university about a racist video that circulated on social media last week. The address will begin at 1:30p.m.
Posted by OU Nightly on Monday, January 21, 2019
A few hours after his statement was delivered, the dean of the university’s David L. Boren College of International Studies, Dr. Suzette Grillot, announced she was laid off for “speaking out in matters of public concern.”
Dear friends & colleagues, I write to inform you that I have been removed as Dean of the David L. Boren College of International Studies at the @UofOklahoma. See public statement attached. Many thanks to everyone who serves our amazing & diverse international community!! pic.twitter.com/0rZaewKeK7
— Suzette Grillot (@suzettegrillot) January 22, 2019
In a series of follow-up tweets, she spoke further about the school’s history of racist incidents.
(3/3) The racism, the sexism, the inequity, the exclusion, the marginalization, the harassment, the silencing…this.stops.now. No more weak words and fake tears. Only strong action and real reform will do. Let's band together now like never before and make it happen!! #formation
— Suzette Grillot (@suzettegrillot) January 22, 2019
“This is about a deep and endemic problem here at the University of Oklahoma (and elsewhere) that has been made even worse under current leadership and their enablers,” she wrote. The Daily Dot has reached out to Grillot for further clarification and will update if she responds.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque