University of Oklahoma removes wall of retired faculty because it only includes 'white male faces'

The department will also consider a required course for the students within the department on "race, civil rights, and inequality."

The University of Oklahoma Department of Political Science has removed a wall featuring "retired members" of the department because it only included 'white male faces.'

The University of Oklahoma Department of Political science has decided to remove and relocate a wall showcasing “retired members” of the department because it only includes “white male faces.”

In an open statement addressing the racial turmoil around the United States, the University of Oklahoma Department of Political Science unveiled eight changes it believes will address racial inequalities within the Department, including the removal of the wall portraits of “retired members” of the department, noting that they only include “white male faces.”

[RELATED: University of Rhode Island to remove murals commemorating WWII veterans for lack of diversity]

The statement, written by Department Chair Scott Robinson and signed by 32 members of the department, specifically addresses the ideas of criminal justice reform, social inequalities, and police brutality. Robinson acknowledges that the political science department has never spoken out on current socio-political issues before, but feels it is necessary to “speak for myself (and invite others to join me)”.

These actions contain a number of changes, including the removal of a wall of portraits of “retired members of our department, a set that exclusively includes white male faces.” The wall will instead serve as a space for current students to “express themselves and represent their own voices.” These “historical pictures will be moved to a setting more appropriate for the protection and expression of this history.”

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Currently, the wall of pictures is located in the “entryway to our department on the second floor of Dale Hall Tower.”

Robinson did note that this action was taken without the express approval of the university as “the second phase of this plan (the permanent removal and movement of the photos) will likely require the cooperation of the college and central administration.” 

In addition to the removal of portraits, Robinson promised the creation of a formal mechanism for complaints related to bias and discrimination, discussion of the addition of a required course dealing “with race, civil rights, and inequality,” advertisement of courses relevant to “race, politics, civil rights, and inequality,” increased opportunities for scholarships from “groups that have been subject to pervasive discrimination,” renewed commitment to increased recruiting of diverse faculty and students, undergraduate and graduate groups to share interests, and the creation of new material for a general education course that ties race and civil rights to various points in the curriculum.

Similarly, the University of Rhode Island decided to remove a mural meant to commemorate WWII veterans because it lacked diversity, as Campus Reform reported recently.

Campus Reform reached out to Robinson and the University of Oklahoma but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft