Oklahoma student govt.: 'Boomer Sooner' is insulting

The Oklahoma University student government rejected a resolution Tuesday congratulating the school’s sports teams amid concerns that the traditional “Boomer Sooner” salute is offensive to Indigenous students.

According to OU Daily, the Student Government Association’s Undergraduate Student Congress voted 13-20-1 against the resolution, with some opponents also citing concerns that the measure would constitute favoritism for sports teams over other student groups on campus.

“The Undergraduate Student Congress would like to congratulate all OU student-athletes for their success this year and thank them for representing the university and the OU student body well in their competitions,” the resolution states. If passed, copies would have been sent to 19 varsity teams and 13 club teams along with a statement saying “Boomer Sooner” in recognition of their accomplishments.

SGA President Daniel Pae told OU Daily that he decided against striking the phrase from the resolution because he does not believe in issuing a “top-down mandate” against the slogan, saying “this is something that should be discussed at the individual and organizational level.”

Indigenize OU, a Native American student group that agitates for the eradication of the terms “boomer” and “sooner” and actively lobbied for the removal of “boomer sooner” from the late resolution, released a statement on its Facebook page Wednesday applauding SGA for its “brave and just decision,” but also complaining about the negative reaction its members have received from some quarters.

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“We think it is a major step in the right direction for non-natives to see ‘Boomer’ and ‘Sooner’ as problematic language with real and violent consequences,” the statement says. “Because the terms ‘Boomer’ and ‘Sooner’ are inextricably tied to colonization and land theft in this state, these terms remain perpetuations of racial violence against indigenous and native communities both on campus and in the Norman and larger Oklahoman community.

“Unfortunately, Indigenize OU has already began [sic] to receive threats and racially-charged hate speech on our official social media and on our members’ personal media sites,” the group continues. “If anything, these reactions are quite telling of the anti-indigenous sentiment in the campus community and beyond, which is precisely what we seek to disrupt, dismantle, and challenge.”

In September, university President David Boren responded to Indigenize OU’s demands with a statement vowing that OU would only drop the “Sooners” nickname if nearly all of the school’s 245,000 alumni requested the change, and his brief remarks reacting to the defeat of the “Boomer Sooner” resolution this week offer no indication that he has moderated his position since, even seeming to offer an implicit rebuke of SGA for allowing the controversy to interfere with its work.

“I think our students, alumni, and thousands of other Oklahomans have tremendous pride in the outstanding performances of our teams and student-athletes this year,” Boren said in a statement obtained by OU Daily. “They deserve our hearty congratulations and appreciation.”

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