Higher Education

Jonathan Small | August 20, 2019

OU officials flout transparency

Jonathan Small

Like many colleges and universities, the University of Oklahoma has a “bias reporting hotline” that allows any aggrieved or offended party to anonymously inform on fellow members of their OU family.

These sorts of bias-reporting mechanisms have drawn opposition. An organization called Speech First recently sued the University of Michigan over (among other things) the use of anonymous reports to the bias response team. Speech First president Nicole Neily says bias response teams are “flagrantly unconstitutional. It is impossible to have a system where students report on each other without chilling free speech. It’s like East Germany.”

OU has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion with a Bias Response Committee whose purpose is “to evaluate and deliberate on bias and discrimination reports” that are received through the hotline. “The BRC will review and provide guidance to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and other collaborating units on how to deal with specific incident reports.”

What kinds of incident reports have come in—and how were they dealt with? OU won’t say. Since last summer, OCPA has sought through open-records requests to learn details (with identifying information redacted) about cases reported to the bias hotline. 

OU still hasn’t provided the information.

Recent media reports assure us that OU interim president Joe Harroz Jr.—a two-decade-long David Boren staffer (as an intern, Senate legislative director, and OU vice president, legal counsel, and law dean)—values transparency. For example, Harroz says that OU, after reporting inflated data on alumni giving for nearly 20 years, now intends “to become an example of integrity in reporting and behavior” on that front.

That’s welcome news. Let’s hope OU becomes an example of integrity in reporting in other areas, too.

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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