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Citing Black Lives Matter, photos of retired white male professors to be taken down at U. Oklahoma

Area to become space for students to ‘represent their own voices’

In a statement on the Black Lives Matter protests, the chair of the University of Oklahoma Department of Political Science has announced the removal of a swath of photos of retired professors that hangs in the department’s entryway, pointing out it consists only of “white male faces.”

“We will transform the entryway to our department on the second floor of Dale Hall Tower,” the statement from Chair Scott Robinson reads. “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.”

The decision, Robinson stated, is one of eight measures the department will undertake to address “issues related to racial justice and inequalities,” adding: “I stand with those that demand that we act like #blacklivesmatter — and not just pretend that our system protects all lives equally.”

MORE: Harvard to take down portraits of prestigious white male doctors

Scott did not respond to emailed requests for comment Monday and Tuesday from The College Fix, nor did the university’s media affairs division, to address questions such as how many images will be removed and why a space for expression cannot exist in addition to the wall honoring the department’s emeritus scholars.

What’s more, Robinson began his statement by negating its officiality, noting, “While I cannot speak in an official capacity, I can speak for myself (and invite others to join me).” It’s unclear if that means his decisions and actions are set in stone or require administrative approval.

With regard to the photos, he stated that “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.”

Robinson (pictured) also outlined plans to possibly have poli-sci majors take a required course on race and inequality and announced the creation of some sort of department-level bias response team.

“We will create a formal mechanism for complaints related to bias and discrimination so that such complaints will be sent to our personnel committee,” he stated. “This mechanism will likely be a web-based form that will allow students to submit comments anonymously and ensure that no single person is a gatekeeper for such complaints.”

Robinson’s statement was signed by 32 peers, from professors to graduate student assistants. The photos’ removal, as well as the other antiracism measures spelled out in the memo, are not unanimously supported, however.

Asked for comment, Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, told The College Fix a university should not coddle students.

“The key to advancement for all Oklahomans, of all races, is not to infantilize students and encourage racial grievance, but rather to provide a quality education to all that will open the doors to a career, lifelong achievement, and the ability to support one’s family as an adult,” said Small (pictured).

“Rather than giving students a heavy dose of empty gestures performed with a sanctimonious attitude, students deserve a quality education and forthright transparency about their prospects of earning enough money to be able to repay their student loans.”

Small added that the removal of the images strikes as almost comical.

“In his statement, the political science department chairman, a white man, promises to remove the images of white men from the entrance to his place of work while apparently hoping no one notices the guy in charge is still a white man—albeit one who says the ‘right things.’”

“That this is what liberal professors think embodies ‘racial justice’ is why academia is increasingly beyond parody.”

MORE: Notre Dame students demand to read fewer white male scholars

IMAGE: YouTube screenshot

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About the Author
Jackson Walker is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin majoring in English creative writing. In addition to The College Fix, Jackson also writes for UW student newspaper the Badger Herald. Outside of classes, Jackson keeps busy with his involvement in the UW Marching band, which has taken him to two NFL stadiums and the Rose Bowl.

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