Okla. student board accuses regents of censorship

By The Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. — Members of the Student Advisory Board to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are accusing the regents’ staff of censoring the students and violating the state’s Open Meeting Act.

The board claims in a letter to the chancellor of higher education that recommendations its members voted on were changed without consulting the student body and that the minutes don’t accurately reflect the board’s April 19 meeting.

State regents spokesman Ben Hardcastle told the Tulsa World on May 6 that the changes were made to a draft of the board’s annual report, which will go before the regents May 29.

He said it was part of a common process that occurs as drafts are revised and passed back and forth, and called the latter “a mischaracterization of the process going on.”

Advisory board Chairwoman Rosie Lynch, a senior majoring in sociology at the University of Tulsa, said May 6 that regents’ staff members are censoring the student voice.

“It’s not what we presented and voted on,” she said. “That’s the issue.”

Members of the student board, joined by the president of the Oklahoma Student Government Association, sent the letter May 8 to Chancellor Glen Johnson, asking to meet with him to discuss why his staff changed the language of the measure the students approved.

Lynch said several paragraphs were altered or removed from recommendations the students approved for their annual report. When she called the regents’ office to ask about the changes, a staff member said they were made to help the students “look better,” she said.

Hardcastle said minutes for the April meeting haven’t been written yet. He said Johnson will respond the letter but might or might not meet with the students.

The advisory board has addressed issues including professional misconduct hearings for faculty members, sexual orientation in discrimination clauses, banning credit-card solicitation on campuses, and capping tuition and fee costs.