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University Of Oklahoma President To PBS: Colleges Must Be Loud Voice Against Racism

Mar 12, 2015

University of Oklahoma President David Boren says the school has a responsibility to educate its students and be vigilant enough to stand up to even the subtlest forms of discrimination in light of the video that made international headlines showing Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members engaging in a racist chant.

"All of us as Americans, not just on our campus, but everywhere, when we hear racist jokes or offhand comments or even in social situations, we have to start standing up and say, no, we won’t put up with that," Boren told PBS Newshour host Judy Woodruff. "That’s not who we are. And I think we have to do it."

Boren said he hopes Parker Rice and the other OU student who was expelled learn from their actions, but they still have to pay a price. But he also said students, parents, and society need to look deeper at their home life, and what society finds acceptable.

"Where we find that they have come with a set of values that are not thoroughly right, when they come with a wrong outlook, we need to be educators and train students to think in new ways, to understand the feelings of others, to be sensitive to the feelings and the rights of other people," Boren said "We’re talking about also a chant that talks about excluding them from a fraternity, threatening them, talking about hanging them from a tree."

Boren announced Wednesday he's creating a new Vice President of Diversity at the University of Oklahoma that will report directly to him, and he already has "an outstanding African-American candidate" in mind.

"You can’t just give an order from on high and do away with racism in our society. You have to show why it’s wrong," Boren said. "You have to teach students lessons. And you hope — have to hope that they will come forward and take ownership of these changes themselves, and that appears to be what’s happening here."

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