Education to help with racism

interclocked handsWith the recent events producing racial tension on college campuses, The Leadership Council held a meeting to get a feel for OCCC’s take on race relations.

The Leadership Council is comprised of a representative from each of the clubs on campus, plus at-large members through application.

Guest speaker Myron Pope, vice president of Student Affairs at University of Central Oklahoma, asked attending students, faculty and campus club representatives questions to gauge the level of racism on campus.

Native American Student Association club president Samantha Harris said people’s concepts of some clubs are wrong.

“People think you need to be Native American to be in the Native American club, but they don’t. You can join any of these clubs.

“You don’t have to be a certain race.”

Black Student Association president Simone Mathenia said the same is true for her club.

“People feel like they have to be black to be a part of [Black Student Association], but we have another student who is from outside of the U.S.,” she said. “We’re trying to branch out and let them know we welcome everybody.”

Many of the attendees addressed the issue of an education system needing to have classes on diversity to help with the issues of today, including Michelle Hestera, the Future Alumni Network club representative.

“We have to make sure each of us understands diversity,” Hestera said.

“If we can get a class that is mandatory across the U.S. on diversity I think that can make a huge difference.

“I think we do a fantastic job of keeping open lines of communication. I love seeing groups working together.”

Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Marion Paden said she didn’t know the level of racism on campus.

“The Leadership Council is the formal mechanism for which students provide input to the administration of the college.”

Student Life representatives said any student or faculty member on campus who has faced discrimination should report that to Student Life.

Comments can be submitted anonymously online or with the comment card boxes located around campus.

To contact Katie Axtell, email

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