University of Oklahoma takes down tribute wall for retired faculty members that only had 'White male faces'
The University of Oklahoma took down a tribute wall that was dedicated to retired faculty in the political science department because it “exclusively includes White male faces.” Earlier this week, the university announced it will be removing the tribute wall as part of a larger push towards enhancing diversity and inclusion within the department, according to a report by Campus Reform.
The department published an open letter announcing it would remove the tribute to retired members because it exclusively featured "White male faces," adding that the wall would only be preserved if adequate funding is secured, per Breitbart News.
We will transform the entryway to our department on the second floor of Dale Hall Tower. One of the walls of this entry includes the images of retired members of our department, a set that exclusively includes white male faces. This will be replaced with a space in which our current students can express themselves and represent their own voices. When funding permits, the historical pictures will be moved to a setting more appropriate for the protection and expression of this history. The second phase of this plan (the permanent removal and movement of the photos) will likely require the cooperation of the college and central administration.
According to the report, the tribute wall will instead be replaced by a display that will enable students to "express their political perspectives on certain issues." Nonetheless, it is unclear at this point whether the university will restrict the range of perspectives students are allowed to share on the wall.
In February, the University of Oklahoma made headlines after a professor allegedly likened the popular phrase "okay, Boomer” to the n-word. Journalism professor Peter Gade faced intense backlash from students and staff after he is said to have used a racial slur during a classroom discussion, according to a report by a student newspaper at the time. The incident occurred during a conversation about changes in the journalism field, when one student suggested that Gade's approach to journalism was archaic and outdated.
In response, Gade called on the student — who argued that journalists have to keep up with the changing times — and said his comment was the equivalent of saying “OK, boomer” to him. While the class broke into laughter, it was quickly interrupted by the professor. “Calling someone a boomer is like" using the n-word, Gade declared. University of Oklahoma Dean Ed Kelley defended the professor saying he had never been accused of using inappropriate language in the classroom during his 20-year tenure at the university. An investigation followed into Gade's alleged remarks, and students were interviewed about what they heard during the discussion in class.
“We wanted to hear from (the students) exactly, not only what was said, but in the context of what was said. And then just importantly, their reaction to what was said,” Kelley said at the time. “We also are going to reach out today and try to talk to the African American students who are in the class... We want to get their perspective as well if they want to share with us, and they don’t have to.”
“We do not condone or accept this behavior from any member of the OU community regardless of occupation or student status,” a Black student organization at the university responded in a statement. “This will not be tolerated or accepted and we expect full action be taken against the professor and college. In addition, we expect accommodation be made for the students who have experienced trauma because of this.”