Higher Education

Ray Carter | August 16, 2023

OU diversity office touts mental-health counseling for students upset by Hawaii fire

Ray Carter

On Aug. 15, the University of Oklahoma’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issued a statement declaring the division “stands in solidarity with the people of Hawai’i” and touting the availability of counseling services for OU students upset by news of Hawaii wildfires.

OU’s Division of DEI declared it “is important that these times of distress are acknowledged and worked through in a safe and meaningful way.”

“These recent wildfires have caused great devastation for the people of Hawai’i with the loss of homes, land, and history,” the OU message stated. “The Division of DEI stands in solidarity with the people of Hawai’i.”

The OU message continued, “Times of crisis can often create emotional and mental stress. As a part of the OU Family, we care for you. If recent events have caused you emotional/mental stress, please consider contacting OU Health Services.”

The email includes a link to the website for OU Health Services. Among the services listed for students are mental health services with a link to the website for the University Counseling Center.

The same day the OU DEI office sent its email, officials in Hawaii announced that the death toll in that state had risen to 99, a figure expected to climb even higher since hundreds more remained missing at that time.

More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the Hawaii fires, particularly in the Maui town of Lahaina.

The OU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion declared that the “beauty and biodiversity of Hawai’i’s unique ecosystems hold a special place in the hearts of many,” but conceded that is “especially” true for “persons living on or from these islands.”

The distance from OU’s campus to Hawaii is nearly 3,700 miles. In spring 2023, OU reported having 25,203 students enrolled on its Norman campus. The website for college factual reports that six OU undergraduate students were from Hawaii.

NOTE: Following publication, the University of Oklahoma provided information showing that 33 students out of 28,320 on the Norman campus in fall 2022 were from Hawaii.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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