NORMAN — Screenshot images of private messages between members of the OU College Republicans were posted to social media, prompting a response and resignations from the student group and criticism from students.
The messages, which date back at least to January, were posted on Twitter anonymously by user @JamGoogly in a series of tweets. Some of the messages advocate violence against an OU faculty member.
Other topics include recent incidences of racism on campus, immigration and Islam. OU College Republicans issued a statement calling some of the comments made public inappropriate.
"As an Executive Board, we wish to make clear in the most explicit and strongest terms possible that this rhetoric is unacceptable, and our organization does not condone it," the statement posted to Facebook reads. "Although we as an Executive Board (along with many of our members) attempt to immediately shut down repugnant language when we see it, we are regretfully not always able to respond to all comments made as immediately as we wish we could."
The messages were shared on the organization's GroupMe, a service that allows members to communicate with one another all at once. The statement says the texting group serves to keep members informed and that individuals who made comments deemed inappropriate have been "permanently removed from our organization."
The University of Oklahoma President James Gallogly also addressed the comments in the messages.
"I have learned today of online posts that make it clear our community continues to wrestle with the boundaries of civil, respectful and thoughtful dialogue," Gallogly said. "The posts, made in past months, reflected messages among members of a student organization and were racist, anti-Islamic, misogynistic, and anti-immigrant. While such comments are legally protected, I ask our students to contemplate the harm, degradation and fear words can cause. I ask our students to recognize each other including our faculty members as worthy of respect and dignity."
According to OU Public Affairs, College Republicans has been in contact with the office of Student Affairs about the content of the messages and the anonymous posting of the screen shots. On Friday, the OU Daily reported that College Republicans Vice Chair Alex Morrow, Executive Director Joseph Howard, Secretary Laura Taylor and Treasurer Ethan Maddy all resigned from the organization.
The Twitter thread -- a series of tweets about a similar topic -- began around 12:40 p.m. on March 7. The first set of messages cover an incident in January in which a man was videoed walking across the north oval of campus and along Boyd Street wearing blackface.
It followed the publication on Twitter of another video that showed an OU student wearing blackface and using a racial slur.
Jonathon Tolle, who is listed by OU as a sophomore student, replies to the news that the man "legally did nothing wrong," and added "I live everyday where people blatantly say racist [expletive] towards white people as if it's normal and nor(sic) racist."
Morrow sends a photo that appears to ask Tolle to stop talking about it. Tolle replies "His shirt says nothing racist and black paint on his face doesn't make him racist."
Logan Schoonover, chair of the organization, then writes the group "needs to stop talking about this right now."
"Our exec is handling our organization's reaction to this right now, but we are not going to debate this in this GroupMe," Schoonover writes later. "We all think there is something wrong with this."
An OU alert about that incident was sent out to students. Later discussion in the group includes another student, senior Paul Conners, writing about the man, "If he gets arrested, I'm protesting outside jail on his behalf."
Following a rally held on Jan. 22 in which recently former dean Suzette Grillot demanded Gallogly's resignation in front of a packed room at the student union, a screenshot of the GroupMe chat shows members discussed it. In this discussion, sophomore Otto Wimer writes "Don't worry, I'd wipe the floor with her," while Tolle later comments "I would break her [expletive] kneecaps."
Another student, Joe McCarthy, comments that he isn't sure if he would "consider that creature a woman."
The OU Daily reports that the OU College Republicans organization plans to go through diversity training and meet with multicultural groups. OU has taken no disciplinary action against students for the messages they posted in the GroupMe.