Higher Education

Jonathan Small | June 21, 2021

OU starting to resemble a reeducation camp

Jonathan Small

As part of its “diversity, equity, and inclusion” focus, one University of Oklahoma college recently vowed to teach white students “cultural humility.”

In addition, OU president Joseph Harroz recently said legislation that prohibited requiring students to take any orientation “that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex” is “contrary to the goals we have laid out for ourselves as part of our Strategic Plan.”

A lawsuit filed by former University of Oklahoma women’s volleyball player Kylee McLaughlin shows what such promises look like in practice. OU increasingly resembles a reeducation camp in a Stalin-era third-world country, not a center of learning or an engine of economic growth.

During the COVID shutdown in the spring of 2020, McLaughlin’s lawsuit says the women’s volleyball team’s schedule “changed dramatically” and for several months “emphasized discussions about white privilege and social justice rather than coaching volleyball.” During that period, team members were “required” to watch and participate in discussions about the documentary “13th.”

Here’s how movie critics summed up that film.

Armond White, writing for National Review, said it “interprets the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery, as a political sham” and declared the documentary “could be the recruiting film Black Lives Matters has not managed to produce on its own.”

Jordan Hoffman, writing in The Guardian, summed up its message as “prisons are the new plantations.”

Kyle Smith, writing for the New York Post, said the film equated Donald Trump supporters “with Deep South lynch mobs,” while David Crow, writing for the Den of Geek website, noted the film cuts from clips of Trump to clips of “law enforcement officials opening fire hoses on Civil Rights protestors in the ‘60s.”

When asked her opinion during a team meeting, McLaughlin—who is a Christian and a conservative—said she thought the film slanted left and questioned some of its arguments.

According to the lawsuit, she was soon labeled a racist and homophobe and required by school officials to take hours of “unlearning” classes. Apparently, no other member of the team had to do the same.

McLaughlin ultimately opted to transfer.

Notably, the OU women’s volleyball coach has directed students, via Twitter, to a website that claims police are “infiltrating protest groups to incite violence” and arrest innocent people. The site warns that police “WILL COME BACK FOR YOU IF THEY CAN.”

Although that’s nonsense on steroids, the coach’s free speech is constitutionally protected—but so is McLaughlin’s right to say “13th” is slanted.

Why were students required to watch political propaganda to maintain an athletic scholarship? So far, OU isn’t saying. But the obvious answer is the requirement never should have been imposed—and Oklahomans should not have their tax dollars used for political reeducation efforts by left-wing cranks.

If OU can’t meet that expectation, why should taxpayers continue subsidizing the school at all?

Jonathan Small President

Jonathan Small


Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.

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