In our cover story, we mentioned both the setbacks and strides made within our university concerning diversity and inclusivity. One of the most recent and important advances has been the appointment of Jabar Shumate as Vice President, a position that emphasizes inclusion. It was created in light of the SAE racist chants and continues to promote diversity and create an environment of acceptance for students, faculty, and staff today. Despite the recent spike of racist incidences, Shumate, along with the Office of University Community, has kept an encouraging attitude.
In an interview this month with Oklahoma Watch, OU Vice President Shumate had much to say on the subject of diversity. On the question of our greatest challenges at the University of Oklahoma, Shumate acknowledges that we’ve had both high and low points.
We must be as transparent as possible that our work is very intentional and that this office and the work of the president is not just a reaction but the way we do business,” he says.
Even in times of stress and unrest, the University’s efforts to not simply react but always be working toward inclusivity have been great. This brings to mind Shumate’s participation at the Black Lives Matter die-in, an act of understanding and solidarity, or the implementation of the 24 Hour Reporting Hotline. This hotline will aid in reporting “bias, discrimination, physical or mental harassment, or misconduct by OU community members,” a tool for helping students feel safer and find justice. Most recently, President Boren also joined students in denouncing anti-BLM protesters.
“I don’t think we ever find ourselves healed,” says Shumate. “But we are always in the mode of understanding that we’re going to do our work to be a better place.” And with the efforts of our faculty, Vice President Shumate, and his office, our community is paving the way to that better, brighter, and more inclusive place.