Higher Education

OCPA president calls on Kayse Shrum to honor OSU’s ‘historic values’

December 18, 2023


OKLAHOMA CITY (December 18, 2023)—Recent events have demonstrated to Americans the extent of the rot in higher education, especially in elite institutions. But the problems are here at home, too—including at Oklahoma State University—and it’s time for policymakers to act, OCPA president Jonathan Small said today.

“I applaud Gov. Kevin Stitt for his executive order seeking to reduce the influence of poisonous ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ (DEI) ideologies in Oklahoma colleges,” Small said. “Unfortunately, OSU president Kayse Shrum’s dismissive response to the executive order—‘an initial review indicates that no significant changes to our processes or practices are needed’—shows that she’s hopelessly out of step with the Oklahomans paying the freight.”

After the OSU Office of Multicultural Affairs decided to “celebrate LGBTQ Pride” last year by hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour “geared towards ages 2-8,” Shrum admitted that “the event did not complement our institutional mission” and vowed that going forward “we must consider if events and programs complement our historic values” at the university. Small said it is time for President Shrum to do so.

“Poisonous DEI doctrines—racist, collectivist, and antithetical to reason and biology—do not complement OSU’s mission and values,” Small said. “DEI needs to be torn out root and branch. And though Gov. Stitt’s order sets the right tone and direction for the executive branch, in 2024 both legislation and a clear message from appropriators are needed.”

Small pointed to a handful of examples which fail to honor OSU’s historic values. More could be cited.

Small called on state lawmakers to explicitly ban viewpoint discrimination in Oklahoma colleges and allow for a private cause of action, with attorneys’ fees and punitive damages allowed for winning plaintiffs, for any student who faces illegal discrimination at schools that continue to endorse DEI radicalism. “It’s time to subject university employees to private civil liability when they disobey the law and violate people’s rights,” Small said.

“Personnel is policy, and it has become abundantly clear that many Oklahoma college officials will not give up their obsessions with bizarre racial and gender theories unless the schools and the officials personally face severe sanctions,” Small said. “It’s time that lawmakers act and impose those penalties so Oklahomans get what they deserve for their taxpayer funding and children’s tuition payments: a higher education system that produces a truly educated workforce.”

Also, any settlements reached in litigation—such as with the professor who served in the Trump administration—should be public record for transparency purposes, Small said.

Small also encouraged state lawmakers to reduce appropriations to higher education until regents and administrators get the message. “Oklahomans should not be forced to subsidize their own demise,” Small said. “It’s time to take a stand against the politicization and indoctrination which are undermining American freedom and the American way of life.”