Oklahoma college recruiter fired after lining up high school students by skin color, hair texture
Students at an Oklahoma City high school were made to line up by skin color and hair texture by a college recruiter who has since been fired.
Eleventh grade students at Harding Charter Preparatory High School told KFOR-TV the recruiter from Oklahoma Christian University visited Monday and, during a gathering at the gym, first asked them to line up from darkest to lightest skin. After dispersing that line, he had them stand based on their hair.
“He told us to line up nappiest hair in the back and straightest hair in the front,’’ junior student Rio Brown said in an interview with the Oklahoma City station.
“That’s when I felt uncomfortable,’’ classmate Korey Todd said. “I was like, ‘OK, I don’t think this is right.’’’
Both the university and the high school acknowledged in statements to the station that the incident took place.
“OC admissions leadership did not approve the inappropriate activity in advance and has communicated closely with Harding administration since the visit,’’ said the university’s statement, which noted that the admissions counselor is no longer employed there.
OCU also said its representatives would stop by Harding on Monday to apologize to students.
Harding Charter Prep, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as Oklahoma’s top public high school in 2019, has an ethnically diverse student body of about 430. According to the school’s website, the demographic breakdown last year was 28% African American, 28% Hispanic, 23% Caucasian, 7% Asian and 14% other.
The name of the recruiter has not been made public, though Todd said he was a white male who portrayed his unusual requests to students as a game.
Brown said teachers left the assembly in tears because they were offended. “I hope it is a wake-up call because many people at the school need to hear how we feel,’’ he said.
The incident is the latest in a recent series of racially charged episodes at Oklahoma learning institutions. In February, a University of Oklahoma history professor repeatedly used the N-word while reading from a historical document in class, and another professor agreed to stop teaching a journalism class for the rest of the semester after telling students that the slur is no more offensive than the phrase “OK boomer.’’
The incidents prompted dozens of students to protest and demand changes at the school.
Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press