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Oklahoma Board of Regents denounces use of racial slurs

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Published 03/12/2020 | Reading Time 1 min 28 sec 

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents called racial slurs that two professors used in their classrooms “disgusting” during its first meeting since dozens of students staged a sit-in outside the school’s administrative offices.

Chairman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes on Tuesday read a statement from the board addressing the recent incidents, The Oklahoman reported.

“We know words matter and words hurt, and some words are unacceptable,” Rainbolt-Forbes read. “We abhor the use of the offensive word. It is disgusting, and it is simply wrong.”

The regents’ statement comes after the school’s interim president, Joseph Harroz Jr., announced on Feb. 24 that a history professor read from a historical document in class that used the N-word repeatedly. Earlier that same month, a journalism professor stepped down from teaching the course for the rest of the semester after telling students during class that the N-word is no more offensive than the term “boomer.”

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The school’s black student leaders subsequently organized a three-day sit-in and hunger strike in which more than 100 protesters filled the school’s administration building until they came to an agreement with school administrators on Feb. 28. Both sides agreed to form a student advisory council to bolster accountability to the office of the president and provost.

The regents noted in their statement that OU students “should not have to take time away from their education” to work for change at the university.

“A dialogue has started, and these conversations must lead to meaningful changes,” the regents said. “As Regents and administrators, we will be your advocates. Now, we have work to do. So, let’s make it meaningful and let’s make it last.”

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Harroz said OU’s response must be as systemic as racism itself. He added that one way to do that is incorporating solutions and student demands in the university’s five-year strategic framework. Among the students’ requests are a new multicultural center on campus and a semester-long diversity course.

On Wednesday, Harroz presented the first draft of the framework to the regents during a private meeting. A group of 11 faculty members led by Provost Kyle Harper has been developing it for several months. It will be the school’s first such plan in at least 25 years.

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