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OC president apologizes for recruiter's 'racist activity'

University President John deSteiguer speaks during the Oklahoma Christian University graduation ceremony at the school in Oklahoma City, Okla. Friday, April 28, 2017.  Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
University President John deSteiguer speaks during the Oklahoma Christian University graduation ceremony at the school in Oklahoma City, Okla. Friday, April 28, 2017. Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman

The president of Oklahoma Christian University apologized Monday for an admissions counselor leading a “racist activity” at a local high school.

President John deSteiguer said in an open campus meeting Sunday that the recruiter’s actions at Harding Charter Preparatory High School were “offensive, harmful and inappropriate.”

The college recruiter, Cedric Sunray, made Harding Charter Prep students line up based on the color of their skin during a visit Feb. 24, as KFOR first reported. He allegedly ranked students based on whose hair was the most “nappy.”

The recruiter was no longer employed at the university within an hour of the incident, deSteiguer said.

“I’m embarrassed and I’m ashamed and I’m mad at what happened and I’m very, very sorry,” he said. “I believe that mistreating people, and especially because of skin color, is a sin. What this recruiter did is not who Oklahoma Christian is and is not what I want Oklahoma Christian to be.”

In a column published Monday in the Christian Chronicle, Sunray said the incident was an “ice-breaker” activity before his presentation, and he had no intention of promoting a racist agenda.

“Having done 87 of these exact presentations this year prior to this one, my only regret in reflection is not providing myself enough time to fully explain the purpose as I have been able to at other presentations, as some of the students and staff from what I understand felt like it was not explained thoroughly,” Sunray wrote.

Sunray said he informed Oklahoma Christian and Harding Charter Prep that he is willing to attend any meetings or forums necessary to discuss the situation and answer questions.

He wrote he is an enrolled member of a Native American tribe and has provided “hundreds” of workshops and presentations on social issues, including racism.

“My teaching is unorthodox, humorous, challenging and, most importantly, necessary,” Sunray wrote in his column. “My Black and non-Black students, their families, my colleagues and others will attest to this and be quick to support my character, intention and more typical results.”

DeSteiguer said all Oklahoma Christian employees would take mandatory cultural sensitivity training as a result of Sunray’s actions.

The university president visited Harding Charter Prep on Monday morning to apologize to students, faculty and administrators.

“As a Christian institution and as a community made up of individual Christians, we must adhere to the highest of standards, and I pledge that we will,” deSteiguer said. “God instructs us to love one another and that everyone, and I mean everyone, is valued. We fell short here. We will learn and we will redouble our efforts to do better.”

Nuria Martinez-Keel

Nuria Martinez-Keel joined The Oklahoman in 2019. She found a home at the newspaper while interning in summer 2016 and 2017. Nuria returned to The Oklahoman for a third time after working a year and a half at the Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia,... Read more ›

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