Meet the man who performed Baker Mayfield’s wedding • 6 | Gender + Equality’s mission to increase inclusivity • 12
Crimson Q U A R T E R LY WINTER 2019
CAN THEY FIX IT? After concerns over transparency amid shifts in OU’s administration, the Board of Regents is taking steps to improve. But does it have the resources and commitment to measure up to boards at comparable universities? • 16
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OUDAILY WINTER 2019
Editor-in-Chief NICK HAZELRIGG
Managing Editor PAXSON HAWS
EMILY MCPHERSON MEGAN FOISY
Your Voice: Community art
Adam Starling: A calming presence CULTURE
GEC: Building an inclusive community
A board in repair: Can they fix it? Dustin Huckabe: From addiction to advocacy Gary Davis: Santa for deaf children Odds & Ends: Headlines you missed
Crimson Quarterly is a publication of University of Oklahoma Student Media. Nick Jungman, director of student media, authorized printing of 10,000 copies by University Printing Services at no cost to the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma.
/ a place for community perspectives
artist: MACKENZIE MULLINS title: “G I R L U G L Y” medium: DIGITAL
about the artist
I am a narrative illustrator graduating from the University of Oklahoma’s School of Visual Arts. My methodology consists of digital painting, comics and printmaking (for spice). Inspiration-wise, my body of work consists of the idea of the self (be it my own self or that of a character) thrust through a mythological filter. Essentially, I explore relatable, human, interpersonal relationships in fantastically inspired worlds. I tend to draw most of my content from various cultures’ fae folklore and the stories from my own childhood, such as the Norwegian story of Prince Lindworm or the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin. Each piece tends to have its own narrative within — sometimes just a quiet shared glance, or a full-on odyssey. If just one person can feel seen or understood through my work, I’d be satisfied. I want to create new versions of the stories I’ve grown up loving, and be able to spread those concepts and ideas to someone else who needs to hear them — and, hopefully, that someone will see themselves in what I do.
We want to showcase your work — to submit your art, photography or writing to YOUR VOICE, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. 5
CALMING PRESENCE From Baker Mayfield’s star-studded wedding to Sundays at Norman’s Victory Family Church, Adam Starling creates space for athletes to be free from the pressures of elite-level sports.
You might have seen him on Bennie Wylie’s Instagram. Or on Kenneth Murray’s and Caleb Kelly’s social media. Or maybe even as the minister at Baker Mayfield’s wedding. But most often — and in his mind, most importantly — you’ll find Adam Starling front and center at Victory Family Church on a Sunday in Norman. The 37-year-old pastor from Mustang, Oklahoma, has become a well-known local in the Norman community. Notably, Starling has formed strong relationships with dozens of Oklahoma football players and staff members. “A tremendous guy. A guy I know I can depend on if I need to talk to anybody,” said Murray, OU’s starting middle linebacker. “Definitely one of my favorite people I’ve met since I’ve been here.” In a way, Starling has taken on the role of the team’s unspoken pastor. Through serving at Victory Family Church for the last sixand-a-half years, he’s created unbreakable bonds with some of the Sooners’ brightest stars. Guys like Ty Darlington, Trevor Knight, Samaje Perine, Mayfield, Murray and numerous others have been drawn to Starling and Victory Family Church. Why, you might ask? The answer is simple. Starling and Victory provide an escape from the everyday pressures of being known as a college football player at the University of Oklahoma. Though often viewed as a celebrity on or around campus, at Victory one
can be known as “Kenneth Murray, the person,” rather than “Kenneth Murray, the football player.” “Everybody deserves a place where they can just come in and be a part of a family,” Starling said. “That’s a really, really big deal to us. We try our best to protect that. ... I want them to have an environment where they can just be normal.” When Starling first arrived at Victory in January 2013, the church had just around 100 parishioners. Starling, who studied at Southwestern, a small Bible college in Texas, said during his first year at Victory, the church wasn’t focused on attracting college kids. That quickly changed upon his arrival, as it’s now one of the most popular churches in Norman among OU students. Starling credits some of this popularity to the first few football players who started attending when he arrived. He recalls Joey Halzle and Ryan Reynolds — who at the time had finished their OU careers a few years prior — as a couple of the first well-known players to regularly attend. This led guys like Darlington, Knight, Perine and Nila Kasitati — who were on the team at the time — to follow in their footsteps. “The culture and atmosphere just kind of blew me away,” said Darlington, now an offensive analyst at OU. “And Adam has been awesome. He’s a great resource for our guys, and he’s continued to be a friend and mentor to me as well.”
STORY BY GEORGE STOIA ∙ PHOTOS COURTESY OF HAYLEY DOLSON 6
From there, Starling became a familiar face around the program, as his Sunday sermon was a hot commodity for many players. It started with Halzle and Reynolds, trickled down to guys like Darlington and Perine, and is now carried on by players like Kelly and Murray. One of Starling’s closest friends also happens to be Wylie, OU’s strength and conditioning coach. The two work out together three to four times a week at Oklahoma’s facilities. Starling said Wylie takes care of him physically, while he takes care of Wylie spiritually. As for the players, Starling has made deep and meaningful connections with many of them. “He’s just a great guy,” said OU senior defensive lineman Neville Gallimore. “He’s a guy that if I needed somebody to talk to, I could talk to him ... just a good, positive person. With football and all the things going, just knowing there’s a guy like that, that wants to know you 8
as a person, is extremely valuable for us players.” Starling has officiated dozens of players’ weddings — most notably Mayfield’s this past summer, after Mayfield personally called Starling and asked him to minister it. “I’m standing up at Baker’s wedding, looking around and seeing Saquon (Barkley), Odell (Beckham Jr.), Bob Stoops and Lincoln Riley, and I’m going, ‘Wow, this is kind of cool,’” Starling said. “But I never really think about it like that. I think it’s like anything else when you get to know somebody — it doesn’t seem unique anymore.” But Starling doesn’t form bonds with these players just to say he knows them or even to score a trip to Malibu for the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner’s wedding. He seeks them because he cares for their well-being and who they are as people. “He’s very intentional about that. I think he’s aware of that. He will go out
of his way to make sure he’s not misconstrued as far as his intentions,” Darlington said. “It’s crucial to have someone like that — because some people will set your entire identity here on how you’re playing, who you are as a player and how good you are. It’s absolutely paramount to find some people and places where you’re not isolated, where you can be real with people, and people can accept you. “The church, and that type of atmosphere, can help alleviate that a little bit and help people accept them for who they are as a person, and not just a football player.” Starling said nearly every OU athletics team is represented at Victory in some form or fashion, from volleyball to gymnastics. He has an affinity for helping college students, knowing this is likely their first time away from family, and some may be questioning their faith. He also recognizes the constant struggle of student-athletes, as they spend most
of their time in the classroom and on the field or court. He said having a place like Victory, where they can be free of the pressure, is essential. “I know everyone wants something from them,” Starling said. “I’ve always wanted to create a safe place where I don’t want anything from them, our church family doesn’t want anything from them, we’re not trying to get autographs, we’re not trying to benefit from our relationship — we’re just a place that can kind of help make a family atmosphere and just be there for kids.” Starling said the No. 1 lesson he teaches players is to be themselves. It sounds simple in theory, but Starling said it’s one of the most difficult things to do as an athlete. Don’t be the person who came before you. Don’t be the person next to you. Don’t be the person the fans want you to be. Be the person you want to be. “He’s taught me so many valuable life lessons,” Murray said. “He teaches me something new every time I see him. So
being able to go in there and worship and learn and not be messed with by anybody — it’s definitely something cool, and something you can’t find everywhere.” The players talk a lot about what they’ve learned from Starling. But Starling himself said he and the church are constantly learning from them. “I think when you see teenagers being pushed like these guys are being pushed, and being criticized like these guys are being criticized, and still be expected to perform at the highest level, it just makes me step back and kind of say, ‘Stop making excuses,’” Starling said. “I think, frankly, it’s inspiring what they do.” As long as Starling is around, OU student-athletes will continue to attend Victory Family Church — because, at the end of the day, it’s people like him who help players escape from the everyday spotlight. “He’s real and raw and honest,” Darlington said. “I feel like there’s people that you come across that have that ‘it factor’ as a person. “Adam is one of those people.”
He’s real and raw and honest. I feel like there’s people that you come across that have that ‘it factor’ as a person. Adam is one of those people.
Ty Darlington, OU offensive analyst & former OU football player
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Gender + Equality Center
BY HALEY HARVEY
celebrates 20 years since its inception as the Women’s Outreach Center, members of the organization reflect on its history and ongoing mission to support everyone at OU.
ender-neutral bathrooms, LGBTQ advocacy and the largest drag show in Oklahoma are things that some students might not have imagined at the University of Oklahoma just 10 years ago. Now, as OU and the national atmosphere have continued to shift, employees at the Gender + Equality Center reflect on two decades of the office’s existence and the role it has played on campus. Originally the Women’s Outreach Center, the organization’s mission focused on women’s health, breast cancer awareness, education and other women’s issues. As the years went by, the mission changed. While the center was still recognized as a resource for women, a greater emphasis began to be placed on the need for a center for the LGBTQ community, as well as gender-based violence prevention and response, and sexual assault advocacy. In 2016, the new Gender + Equality Center was born. The center will celebrate 20 years on Nov. 1. For two decades, this group has supported and continues to support marginalized groups on campus by providing resources and opportunities. The center has made its mark, and it doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. OU students are exposed to the center’s many facets their first year through mandatory meetings called “Step In, Speak Out.” The center is also responsible for the “Consent Never Goes On Break” and “My Costume Is Not My Consent” posters seen around campus in the past. These are all campaigns from the center’s gender-based violence prevention portfolio to educate OU students about sexual assault and how it can be prevented. “We do a lot of work on the front end to make sure the worst thing never happens,” said Erin Simpson, director of the center. “But if the worst thing does happen, we’re home of the OU Advocates, which is our sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, stalking or harrassment 24/7 advocacy group. We believe the student standing in front of us wholeheartedly and work to make sure they feel safe, supported and can continue their education here at OU.” One of the longest-serving members of OU Advocates, Maggie Pool, said the program is unique because it is completely on a volunteer basis. “An advocate is there to connect the student with resources and being there — being their advocate. Sometimes it’s just for them to know that someone is there for them and believes in them,” Pool said.
, MILES FRANCISCO AND LEANNE HO. PHOTO BY PAXSON HAWS
ERIN SIMPSON, DIRECTOR OF THE GENDER + EQUALITY CENTER. PHOTO BY PAXSON HAWS
Pool said the program has evolved during her years as an OU Advocate through the increased availability of their resources. When Pool became an advocate, she said the advocate phone number was not made publicly available. After the simple change of making the number more accessible, Pool said the amount of calls increased. “I think that simple change of letting people know that this service was available was huge,” Pool said. “Because sometimes people don’t want to tell their professor or their resident adviser — they want it to be as confidential as possible.” Additionally, Pool said the sexual violence culture has changed because of how much more attention it is getting than in the past. “I think the culture is changing because people are talking about it,” Pool said. “Having a campus that offers these services changes the climate and culture of sexual violence.” LGBTQ education and programming is an important facet of the center. The Aspiring Ally program, which provides training to help 14
others advocate for the LGBTQ community on campus, was created nearly 12 years ago and has trained over 10,000 people about LGBTQ identities, experiences and ways to show support since its inception. The LGBTQ programming team also works to organize events like “Crimson and Queens,” Oklahoma’s largest drag show. Along with the various programs the center offers, it has been a place of refuge. This safe space has inspired students to get involved and be part of an organization that helps people who may be in need of support. Leanne Ho, English literary and cultural studies senior and LGBTQ+ Program Advisory Board chair, said the center had a positive impact on them upon arriving to OU. “I came from a really homophobic, conservative background where I didn’t really have a chance to be outwardly involved in LGBTQ advocacy until I got to college, and I knew that was something I wanted to do,” Ho said. Ho’s involvement with the center speaks for itself. Having been a peer
educator for “Step In, Speak Out” and a gender-based violence intern, as well as working on the executive board for a student-led social justice conference at OU called “Mosaic,” Ho has seen firsthand the impact the center can make. “Up until I got involved, I didn’t really have a queer community,” Ho said. “Getting to meet other LGBTQ people, especially people who saw their identities as sources of celebration instead of shame, that was really important to me as a young queer person.” While today there may be more acknowledgement of LGBTQ identities and rights than in the past, Ho believes there has always been the need for a space for the community on college campuses. “College is already hard,” Ho said. “Then you have this added burden of self-advocacy — whether it’s making sure your professors use the right pronouns or making sure you have access to gender-affirming bathrooms — and other things you have to think about that other college students might not have to.”
Reflecting societal progress The world we live in today is much different from the world the Gender + Equality Center was created in. Today, there is more acceptance of different identities and more understanding of the issues women and LGBTQ students face. People of marginalized communities are assuming prominent roles on campus and making their mark, providing figures for people to look up to. The same can be said for women fighting for equal pay in the workplace and victims of sexual assault speaking out against their abusers. The #MeToo movement went viral on Twitter in October 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano sent out a tweet urging anyone who had been sexually assaulted before to comment “me too” under her post. The tweet got an immense response, resulting in the hashtag’s use over 19 million times within a year of Milano’s initial post. Activist Tarana Burke started the original #MeToo movement on MySpace to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly young women of color from low-wealth communities, find pathways to healing. Today, the movement has inspired many around the world to speak up and even helped pave the way for the center to support students in new ways. Political science and African and AfricanAmerican studies senior Miles Francisco, a programming intern for the center who is also a “Step In, Speak Out” peer educator and an LGBTQ+ Program Advisory Board member, said the movement and societal attitudes have made an impact on college campuses. “I think college campuses are microcosms of society at large,” Francisco said. “Everything that has happened in the world — whether it be the #MeToo movement, marriage equality or the exponentially high record of murders that occur that are perpetuated against transgender women of color — all of those things affect the initiatives, trainings and urgencies of the work the GEC does.” With the help of OU Student Government Association funds, new additions to the center are on the horizon. These include a complete office renovation to quadruple the center’s space and two gender-inclusive bathrooms in the back of
Beaird Lounge in the Oklahoma Memorial Union. The office is also in the process of hiring two new full-time staff members. Simpson said last academic year alone, the center held 351 educational training sessions. With the increased number of sessions, these two new staff members will be a training and development coordinator and an outreach coordinator to build programming for people who hold multiple identities. “That is a pace that is continually amping up, as more and more people ask for training sessions around implicit bias and LGBTQ identities, how to be a better ally, gender-based violence prevention or anti-racist things,” Simpson said. The center strives to help make societal progress through events such as the “Crimson and Queens” drag show, which Simpson said didn’t exist when she was an OU student. “It’s hard for me to imagine, in my undergraduate career, 700 people in a room cheering for a drag queen,” Simpson said. “I think back to my undergraduate time between 2001 and 2006 and I’m like, ‘I don’t think that would’ve happened.’” In fact, Simpson said, such a large crowd wanted to attend the show last year that people had to be turned away. “These are the moments that I think about where I can see change and progress,” Simpson said. “It’s slow, and I wish it would come faster, but it’s happening.”
Advocating for change at OU Kathy Fahl, former director of the Gender + Equality Center, said it is important to provide a place that supports vulnerable students, now more than ever before. “It’s critical to support underserved, marginalized communities,” Fahl said. “I think also because there are not a lot of community-based programs for the LGBTQ community, it also serves a purpose for them in the community and opportunities to collaborate with some groups that exist in Norman.” As for the center’s mission, Fahl said it has changed over time. Having served as director for 11 years, Fahl said one of the greatest accomplishments of the center, in her eyes, is advocating for change at OU.
“I think working toward institutional change goes beyond a program, event or even a student,” Fahl said. “I think those things (we work toward) certainly help students in the moment, but they help way beyond when students graduate.” For Francisco, working with the center gives him an opportunity to stand up for the underrepresented. “For me, as a cisgender, heterosexual male, it’s really important for me to show up and be an advocate for women, queer people and transgender people, and to show that really visibly,” Francisco said. “Creating equitable, accessible alternative solutions for marginalized students, faculty and staff is something that I’m really passionate about.” Francisco said his involvement with the center has not only allowed him to support others, but it also has been instrumental to his personal growth. “The GEC has been a learning tool for me to constantly be working on myself and also to be working on all of the different spaces and areas that I get to work on that may not have such a distinct name as the GEC, like my fraternity or some of the other organizations I’m in,” Francisco said. “Bringing in the importance of intersectionality of equity and justice for transgender and queer folk into all of those spaces has kind of morphed into who I am as a student activist on this campus.” Francisco said with the rising visibility of things like LQBTQ advocacy and sexual assault prevention, it has allowed for more important conversations to happen that might not have happened in the past. Additionally, he said it has allowed the center to evaluate itself and grow on its own. “I think the main way the GEC has grown has been by critiquing itself, allowing itself to adapt to the time and really needing to bring in more diverse voices, perspectives and identities into the office,” Francisco said. “So I think that is the biggest way the GEC has grown — it’s who is in the room and at the table, and who is leading these conversations.” As for the center’s impact on him, Francisco said the work is not easy, but it’s worth it. “It’s difficult work, but it’s really important work.”
A BOARD IN REPAIR Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has appointed two regents and is on the verge of appointing his third since he was inaugurated in January. As the board reorganizes and seeks ways to improve, OU community stakeholders are asking for more input and transparency. BY JORDAN MILLER 16 ILLUSTRATION BY CARLY OREWILER
“(A nonvoting student regent is) not something that’s been accepted at all, especially by the Board of Regents or anyone higher up in the decision-making process.” Adran Gibbs, OU Student Government Association president
After three presidents in three years, a million-dollar investigation behind closed doors and criticisms over transparency, OU’s Board of Regents has decided to ask for help. In August, the board issued a request-for-proposals to assemble a report of best practices for university governance across the nation, with implications of those findings for OU. In October, the board tried a new open discussion strategy with public committee meetings. But in between meetings, the way the board selected a new chair may have violated the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, according to Freedom of Information Oklahoma — which also gave the board the 2019 “Black Hole Award” for its lack of transparency. Compared to boards at two institutions similar to OU, the University of Kansas and Indiana University Bloomington, OU’s board lacks community representation, staffing support and student perspective. Those who don’t have a seat at the table feel the lack of representation. Student Government Association President Adran Gibbs said SGA and other community stakeholders have been pushing for more input for a while, at least to get a nonvoting student on the board, but have not been successful. “We don’t have a lot of input at the Board of Regents level, besides the public meetings that they hold a couple times a semester, but you don’t have speaking privileges — no one does at the ... meetings,” Gibbs said. “(A nonvoting student regent is) not something that’s been accepted at all, especially by the Board of Regents or anyone higher up in the decision-making process.”
Building effective boards The University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents is made up of seven governor-appointed regents who ultimately approve some of the biggest decisions for the OU system, which also includes Cameron University and Rogers State University. The regents “oversee and support and assist in the governance of a public institution,” said Alisa Fryar, OU associate political science professor and an expert on higher education policy. This board has more specific powers targeted toward the OU system, rather than across all Oklahoma institutions as a whole, Fryar said. The board typically holds regular meetings seven to eight times a year, usually with the attendance of the university president and occasionally other senior university officials, such as Ken Rowe, senior vice president and chief financial officer, or athletic director Joe Castiglione. The meeting locations shift among the various campuses the board represents. By comparison, other university boards have many constituencies that help advise on board decisions — rather than just having the university presidents speak for all institutional aspects. The University of Kansas, which was ranked 130th in the nation this year by U.S. News and World Report, is a university comparable to OU according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System’s 2018 Data Feedback Report. OU recently regained its ranking in U.S. News and World Report after misreporting of alumni donations during former President David Boren’s tenure, and the university is now ranked 132nd.
The University of Kansas is governed by the Kansas Board of Regents, whose members meet once a month at their office in Topeka and oversee six state institutions, coordinate with other community or technical colleges and regulate the state’s private universities, said Matthew Keith, director of communications for the Kansas Board of Regents. Although the board’s monthly meetings are in Topeka, it also holds three campus visits each year, Keith said. The board’s monthly meetings are public and live-streamed — whereas OU has live-streamed only the selection of former OU president James Gallogly in recent years. “(On these visits,) they always meet with the faculty, and they meet with students as well, just to try and get that shared governance view on each campus, because obviously ... they’re the elected leaders for the Faculty Senate, or for the SGA on the campus,” Keith said. While OU regents’ meetings typically go through and approve agenda items for each campus, Kansas regents’ meetings are usually twofold: one day for discussion of issues within committees and another day for committees to present reports to the entire board before it makes a decision. This is a practice OU’s board tried at its October meeting. “(At Kansas,) they really rely a lot on hearing from all of those different groups from across the system to really help provide some insight,” Keith said. “Board staff helps coordinate those groups as well and provide that information to the regents because it is a lot. They do a lot of different roles.” 17
ACROSS THE BOARDS UNIVERSITY OF
7 board members
9 board members
9 board members
Each member is governor-appointed
Each member is governor-appointed
5 non-student members are governor-appointed
Each serves a 7-year term
Each serves a 4-year term
Non-students serve 3-year terms, and students serve 2
No student or faculty representative
No more than 5 of the 9 members can be of the same political party
1 member is a governor-appointed student
Does not have an advisory committee
No 2 members can reside within the same county at time of appointment
3 members are elected by alumni
OU Vice President Chris Purcell is tasked with assisting and organizing the regents
Has expert, full-time staff members to offer advising support
Has a University Staff Council
Keith said three councils make up committees for the Kansas board: governance, fiscal affairs and academic affairs. Each group has subgroups that report to it — such as a council of business officers across Kansas institutions, and another for chief business officers from community and technical colleges across the wider state system. In addition to these advising groups, the Kansas board starts meetings with reports from the council of presidents and the system council of presidents, the council of faculty senate presidents and the student advisory committee, Keith said. This committee, which has been re18
quired by state statute since 1975, is made up of SGA presidents from each campus, Keith said. OU’s board, in comparison, has seven committees: athletics, finance/audit, Norman campus, Tulsa campus, Health Sciences Center, Cameron University and Rogers State University, according to a recent special meeting agenda. Three regents serve on each committee, Rainbolt said, and with the recent open special committee meetings Oct. 22, she said the board is trying different things to be more transparent with its decision-making. Rainbolt said they are testing practices from other institutions
— such as Oklahoma State University, where Regent Natalie Shirley drew upon the idea for this type of committee meeting — to come up with the “best decisions.” “I think it was fruitful and interesting. I liked hearing what everybody’s thinking ... the best decisions come from the best thought processes,” Rainbolt said. At the Oct. 22 meeting of the Norman campus committee, the regents discussed issues more openly than at a typical meeting, with Vice President of Operations Eric Conrad discussing issues and answering questions about one of the agenda items.
Faculty Senate Chair Joshua Nelson also attended, and when Rainbolt was asked if more community members would be brought in to these meetings, she said people should look at how Faculty Senate chairs have come to general meetings as an example of how to get involved. “First of all, I’d like everyone to show interest and come to the general meeting. If you’re really interested, show up for that,” Rainbolt said. According to a recent special meeting agenda, committee discussion occasionally can involve outside members giving advice to the regents, such as Conrad’s inclusion in their discussion of the Norman campus. Indiana University Bloomington, which was ranked 79th by U.S. News and World Report and is another comparable university according to the 2018 Data Feedback Report, has a meeting structure similar to the Kansas board’s. Their meetings typically last two days, with separate committees for areas like academic affairs and student relations, said Debbie Lemon, secretary of the Indiana University Board of Trustees. Each committee is led by different regents, but all regents serve on each committee, along with a president’s liaison, Lemon said. Each president’s liaison is a university vice president, except for the liaison for student relations, who is the president’s chief of staff. Lemon said these liaisons help the Indiana board run most efficiently. “That helps because that really informs, especially the committee chair, if there’s any late breaking things going on, and what’s really important for that particular committee going forward,” Lemon said of the liaisons. “Those relationships are really important.” During their business meetings, the Indiana trustees also hear faculty reports from their University Faculty Council, which has three co-chairs, one each from system location in Bloomington, Indianapolis and the regional campuses, Lemon said. Fryar said a big reason why reason
OU’s board does not have its own advisory committees or councils is a lack of staffing, and being on the board is not a full-time job for the regents, either. Boards like Kansas’ often have full-time staff members with expertise in areas like academic affairs who provide independent advising support. Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni that works to uphold academic excellence and accountability at universities nationwide, said having committees of regents specialize in specific issues — which OU’s board does — is a big advantage for smaller boards. “The committees are able to share their longer and deeper engagement on those particular topics,” Poliakoff said. “I would recommend that there be — for all boards — something beyond simply the public presentations at board meetings with these constituencies. Having an opportunity for subgroups of trustees or regents to meet with greater focus on very specific issues, and then sharing that with the board, is a real advantage.”
Creating community representation OU’s governor-appointed board is small but ideal, Poliakoff said, as long as the governor is deliberate about appointing members with representative backgrounds of expertise. Since Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt took office in January 2019, he has appointed two regents to OU’s seven-member board, and the recent resignation of Renzi Stone will leave Stitt to appoint his third regent in 10 months. Indiana’s board has had a governor-selected student trustee since 1976, Lemon said. Although this adds a student perspective to the board, it can lead to issues with the board being an independent trust of the university, Poliakoff said. “(Student trustees) can be extremely effective,” Poliakoff said. “But here’s the
caveat: An effective trustee or regent should leave his or her constituency at the boardroom door. The board members should listen to everybody, but be beholden to nobody, except — in the case of a public institution — the citizens that they serve, and the institution through which they serve them. It’s crucial that governing boards have that level of independence.” Six of the nine Indiana trustees are appointed by the governor, but the remaining three are elected annually by alumni, and every trustee except the student serves three-year terms. The student trustee serves a two-year term and is selected through a trustee search, Lemon said. The committee, which is composed of the presidents of student government organizations across the Indiana University campuses, meets several times a year and narrows down the candidates to 10 with an open application and interview process. Those finalists are then sent to the governor for review. Although the search is closed, the president and chair of the board of trustees are both given the list of names before the governor makes the final decision, Lemon said. “Our student has all the same powers as everybody else,” Lemon said. When OU had student representation on the presidential search committee before Gallogly’s selection in 2018, the three students in the group had onethird of a vote each, in comparison to a half of a vote each from two staff members and a full vote each from 12 faculty and at-large members. Some boards may have political constraints, such as Kansas’ governor-appointed board requirement that no more than five of the nine members be of the same political party, according to the board’s policy manual. No two regents can reside in the same county at the time of their appointment, either. In comparison, several OU regents are based in Oklahoma City, according to the regents’ online biographies, though the board also represents campuses in Lawton, Tulsa, Norman and Claremore.
Poliakoff said although political controls on regents can be representative — as seen at the University of Colorado, where regents are chosen through direct elections — constituent loyalty can be a barrier to the ultimate purpose of a governing board, but there is no “silver bullet” to guarantee the board will be loyal to the university yet independent. Amid all these selection processes and composition regulations for governing boards, Poliakoff said the best trustees are the ones who stay in touch with the university outside of board presentations and the school newspaper — whether it be through a university appointee or through contact with university constituencies. “A good trustee is somebody that is intensely informed about the institution, and about higher education and policies around the nation,” Poliakoff said. “The trustees are also a window outward from the institution to see what best practices are and what challenges are around the nation.”
Choosing the right leaders Each governing board in Kansas, Indiana and Oklahoma has one large task in common: selecting the university president. In the past three years, OU’s Board of Regents has had to select a university president — who then retired less than a year into his term — and an interim president who will serve a minimum of 15 months, when another search will commence. The regents received criticism for the closed search in early 2018, when no candidates were announced throughout the process except one who announced himself. But this process is not uncommon at other institutions. “You have to be kind of judicious about (transparency). ... There are times when I appreciate the deliberative value that comes from being able to discuss things in ways that aren’t fully public,” Fryar said. “At the same time, there are other spaces where ... the optics made it difficult to say that there was meaningful transparency, and there were probably reasons to believe there was not meaningful transparency.” 20
The Kansas Board of Regents appoints the presidents at the six state universities it represents, Keith said. This board has two options when conducting a presidential search: They can have the board lead the search, or, most commonly, they can hold a committee-led search with a chair, one regent, the previous board president, faculty, students and community leaders. This committee vets initial candidates and conducts official interviews, then forwards its finalists to the board. The board can conduct either a closed or open presidential search, but Keith said the board typically chooses a closed search to keep candidates’ names confidential, though it has conducted open searches in the past. This search process is very similar to the type conducted to find Gallogly, where faculty, students, staff and other members of the university community formed a 17-member committee and submitted finalists to the board after going through applications and an interview process. Although Indiana has had the same university president since 2007, Lemon said Indiana’s board also would assemble a committee when the next search arises, with a similar composition to Kansas’ committee. The last time there was a search at Indiana, another advisory board gave feedback to the primary search committee, with even more academics and alumni giving input as board members, Lemon said. Although Lemon said she was unaware of whether Indiana’s previous search was open, Indiana state law “does not limit — and presumptively requires — the release of the following information in an applicant’s file: ‘name, compensation, job title, …’” according to the Student Press Law Center’s state-by-state guide to executive personnel searches. Oklahoma’s laws are more restrictive of such information. Open records law exempts selection materials related to hiring a public employee, and open meetings law allows closed meetings when discussing hiring of a public employee, according to the Student Press Law Center’s guide. Poliakoff said the first step toward a
successful presidential search is for the board to determine its vision for the university’s future, so members can be clear about expectations for the successor. Next, the board needs to listen to “every constituency in the university” through focus groups to clarify the criteria for the next president — something OU implemented in the search for Gallogly, though the board ultimately seemed not to adhere to those criteria in its selection. Without a clearly defined vision for the university’s future, the search can end up “far more ambiguous than it should be,” Poliakoff said. “(The appointment of the university president) is the single most important responsibility of the board,” Poliakoff said. “Whether it uses an executive search firm or not, it must never delegate away any of that engagement or responsibility. If that process is followed, it has a much better chance of a really vibrant working relationship with the (university) CEO.”
Changing perspectives In the midst of a tumultuous time at OU, Poliakoff said the biggest thing the regents can take from the past few years is to learn from the experience — which it seems they are doing, he said, considering the delayed search for a permanent president. “This shows a prudent instinct in making sure the next selection is one that is based on a very measured and considered understanding of what OU needs to continue to be the great institution that it is,” Poliakoff said. “Then, to be able to articulate criteria from that understanding and to ensure that every board member is fully engaged in the search process — and when that’s done, I think the university has far less to fear.” In the board’s solicitation to determine best practices for university governance, due to be presented in December, the regents are attempting to further understand what the best ways are to run OU efficiently. “By taking prudent measures,” Poliakoff said, “one greatly enhances the possibility of an outcome that will allow the institution to be everything that it wants to be.”
21 PHOTO BY SIERRA SIZEMORE
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DUSTIN HUCKABE FROM ADDICTION
Texas Tech’s collegiate recovery program supported him as he recovered and pursued an education. But when he moved to Oklahoma, he realized he’d need to fight to create a support system at OU for others struggling with addiction.
BY BAILEY LEWIS
PHOTO BY PAXSON HAWS
ILLUSTRATION BY CARLY OREWILER
ustin Huckabe had a “moment of clarity” while pouring his fix into his veins through a needle one night. He had been shooting up heroin every day for three months, watching several friends overdose and one die. But shooting up that day was different — the high and euphoria he was addicted to were gone. “It was,” he remembers, “just a means of survival.” He called his mom and told her he needed help, but he hated her response because it was the truth. “You know,” she told him, “where the answers are.” A day later, he walked into a 12-step recovery meeting in San Antonio wearing a long-sleeved shirt to cover his track marks, and he heard a sentence that changed his life forever. “This guy said in the meeting, ‘How free do you want to be?’” Huckabe said. “And he was talking to the group, but I felt like he was talking to me. I just remember thinking to myself, ‘What does
that look like? I have a lot of shame, and I have a lot of guilt. And I feel inadequate, and I feel all of these things, and I don’t know how to stop that, and I want some freedom from that.’” He has been sober since that day — May 26, 2011. Now 31 and a social work senior at OU, Huckabe started Students in Recovery, a support group for students recovering from addiction, in fall 2018. As president of the organization, he is advocating for OU to create a collegiate recovery program after being a part of Texas Tech University’s program, which helps students struggling with addiction get their degree while in recovery, according to the Association of Recovery in Higher Education. After speaking with OU administration and being told “no” repeatedly, he decided to hold an event called “A Night of Recovery” on Sept. 27, where Students in Recovery put together a panel to talk about collegiate recovery. Before the event even started, the organization received a $10,000 donation from the Charles and Cassandra Bowen Charitable Foundation to aid in its
fight to persuade the OU administration to create the program. “(I decided) we’re going to invite everyone I’ve ever met doing this work, and we’re going to make it to where they have to listen,” Huckabe said.
‘I instantly felt at home’ When Huckabe was 25, he moved to Lubbock, Texas, after his girlfriend Emma Lewis was accepted into Texas Tech. Huckabe met Lewis, whom he married in October 2018, while they were in the 12-step recovery program in San Antonio. He had been sober for two years, and she had been for three. They joined the recovery community and kept hearing about “how amazing” the collegiate recovery program at Tech was. Lewis was accepted into the program and received a $3,000 scholarship. “It’s everything that they said it was,” Huckabe said, describing his first visit to the program’s facility. “There was a huge building that was three stories tall for students that are just in recov-
ery from everything — eating disorders, gambling, sex, drugs, alcohol, depression, whatever.” The facility has offices, meeting rooms and a lobby, according to the website for Texas Tech’s Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities. But the basement, reserved for the program’s members, faculty and staff, has a meditation room, a kitchen and a break room, a computer lab, study areas, a game room and a TV lounge. The program also holds various meetings every day except for Saturday. Huckabe started attending a local community college in Lubbock and got a job as the “urinalysis guy” at an addiction treatment facility called The Ranch at Dove Tree. But he never expected the phone call that came shortly after he took the job. Vincent Sanchez, who has been the associate director of Texas Tech’s collegiate recovery program for 24 years, was “someone everyone in the recovery community” heard about, Huckabe said, and he was “this ‘Wizard of Oz’ character that I’d never met.” “I had no idea how (Sanchez) got my number — none of that,” Huckabe said. “And he goes, ‘I don’t want you to take that UA job,’ and I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got bills to pay, man,’ and he goes, ‘I want you to become the director of the Outdoor Adventure Program for The Ranch at Dove Tree. I want you to take these clients on camping trips. I want you to teach them life skills, and I want you to show them that recovery is possible.’” Huckabe took the job — his first management position — and started leading a staff of about seven. “It changed my life forever,” Huckabe said with tears in his eyes. “Because that doesn’t happen to me. And I don’t know why he asked me to do that, but it changed a lot.” Sanchez said he chose Huckabe for the position because he heard countless
times from his students “what an amazing person” Huckabe was, and how he was “really willing to do whatever he could to help other people.” “Everything I’d heard about him was so positive, and I thought, you know, this is the kind of guy that would inspire young people in recovery,” Sanchez said. Sanchez started “hounding” Huckabe to apply to get into Texas Tech, but Huckabe didn’t feel he was academically ready and never saw school in his future. He’d failed first grade, hadn’t learned to read until fifth grade and “barely made it through high school.” Lewis said Huckabe had always felt inferior when it came to school, and his family had never encouraged him to try higher education. “It wasn’t ever talked about,” Lewis said. “And if somehow the topic was brought up, it was always, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t do that. You should do something else.’” Lewis was in school when she and Huckabe started dating, and she encouraged him to try it. He enrolled in an English class at a community college in San Antonio. “I sit at the front, and I’m taking notes, and I really don’t know how to take notes,” Huckabe said. “I’m overwhelming myself, but I’m showing up like I did in recovery. I was going to treat school like recovery. I’m just going to show up every day, and I’m going to sit in the front, and I’m just going to ask questions. I’m just going to be here.” He made a B — his first B ever. Sanchez eventually convinced Huckabe to apply to Tech, and he was denied. But two weeks later, he got an acceptance letter with a $1,200 scholarship into Tech’s collegiate recovery program, which would override the denial. “And then all of a sudden, I’m at a huge university surrounded by 18-year-old kids in biology lab class,” Huckabe said. Huckabe said the classes were much
harder than what he was used to at community college, but one thing helped: He was able to lean on his peers in the collegiate recovery program. “The beautiful thing is that I have this community that I could go to in between classes, before classes, after classes, with people that were just like me,” Huckabe said. “People of all different ages and all different backgrounds and had one fundamental identity — and that was that we were in recovery. And because of that, I instantly felt at home, and I felt instantly capable of doing whatever.”
‘I instantly felt isolated’ Lewis graduated from Texas Tech in May 2018 with a degree in chemical engineering and landed a job in Oklahoma. Huckabe started attending OU and “instantly felt way out of my element, instantly felt isolated, instantly felt marginalized, instantly felt stigmatized.” “I go from being highly supported, and I could lean on these people emotionally, physically, whatever, to nothing — to absolutely zero recovery support at all,” Huckabe said. “I needed something.” Huckabe said the prevention programs OU offers at Goddard Health Center are not enough, and the university perpetuates stigmas about addiction by “fining someone for a mental illness” like alcoholism with its “three strikes” policy. Each strike results in consequences, such as fines and eventually suspension. He started looking at research about collegiate recovery programs and found statistics that showed how beneficial the programs were, and that Texas Tech has materials other universities can replicate to create their own. “I start finding amazing statistics — that students that are in these collegiate recovery programs out-pass their peers
“I go from being highly supported, and I could lean on these people emotionally, physically, whatever, to nothing — to absolutely zero recovery support at all. I needed something.” Dustin Huckabe, social work senior & Student in Recovery founder
of their institution in GPA’s, retention rates and graduation rates,” Huckabe said. “Because they’re supported, and these are really resilient people.” He started meeting with anyone on campus who would listen about implementing a collegiate recovery program. He met with Jane Irungu, interim vice president for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; David Surratt, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students; and Kristen Partridge, associate vice president for Student Affairs and associate dean of students, along with multiple deans and administrators at Goddard. But all Huckabe was told by members of OU administration was “no” — whether it be because of “budget restrictions” or the administration was “too busy.” He got frustrated and decided to “back off.”
‘I’m going to embrace it’ Huckabe described himself at 13 as “that kid” — constantly going in and out of inschool suspension, smoking weed, drinking alcohol and regularly being sent to behavioral and mental health clinics and therapy. By 16, he had run away from home and started using almost any drug he could get his hands on — methamphetamines, cocaine, weed, Xanax and alcohol. He started robbing and stealing to pay for his addiction, and he didn’t care “about anybody or anything.” He was in and out of jail, on probation or in zero-tolerance boot camps or lockdown treatment facilities from 18 to 23.
“Once drugs came into my life, that was it,” Huckabe said. “That’s what I was going to live for.” But the story of Huckabe’s battle with addiction from 13 to 23, he said, is what drives him to keep going and fight for students like him. “I’m just that kid, man,” Huckabe said. “I’m that kid who went to (in-school suspension), and I’m that kid who got in fights every Friday, and I’ve been told ‘no’ a lot. And they can continue to tell me ‘no,’ and I’ll keep knocking on their doors.” Huckabe invited important stakeholders to be part of the panel for “A Night of Recovery,” including Tim Rabolt, executive director for the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, OU student leaders and Oklahoma judges and politicians. “I was like, ‘All right, if the university can’t go anywhere, or they’re unwilling, or they can’t or whatever — I’m just going to bring them here,’” Huckabe said. Huckabe said there were about 100 people at the event, including Partridge and two other university officials of the Student Affairs division — Maggie Pool, assistant director of clinical services at Goddard Health Center, and Kye LeBoeuf, Comprehensive Alcohol Program coordinator, Alcohol Strike One health educator and general health educator at Goddard Health Center. Partridge was taking “crazy notes” at the event, Huckabe said, and also spoke with Sanchez, who ﬂew to Norman to attend the event. Huckabe said he is “very hopeful that there will be tangible steps going forward
from the university.” “Currently, we have raised $14,695 from private donations,” Huckabe said. “I have a meeting with Dean (David) Wrobel of the College of Arts and Sciences, who is interested in learning more and will be meeting with the Southwest Prevention Center to look into grants.” Sanchez said Huckabe was always someone who stood out to him and knew he would do great things, and he has loved watching Huckabe “take this mission and run with it.” “I hate to say that it was expected, but it kind of was,” Sanchez said. “But he did it in Dustin’s way, and he made it bigger than what all of us expected.” Lewis said she’s really proud of Huckabe and where he is now compared to when she first met him. “He would joke around just so that he wouldn’t have to be vulnerable or authentic,” Lewis said. “So he’s shed that mask he was using to protect himself. And he’s going out and advocating for people that can’t advocate for themselves fully, and advocating for people that don’t know they need to be advocated for.” Huckabe said he once was asked where his passion comes from. The answer, he said, is simple. “Because I don’t think I should be here. If you were to look at the history of my life and where it was going, I shouldn’t be here. So I’m not going to squander this moment. I’m going to live in it, and I’m going to embrace it.”
“And they can continue to tell me ‘no,’ and I’ll keep knocking on their doors.”
28 ILLUSTRATION BY CARLY OREWILER
Gary Davis As the holiday season approaches, OU American Sign Language instructor prepares to give a special gift to deaf and hard of hearing children. PHOTO BY CAITLYN EPES
ary Davis made OU history in 2017 when he became the first full-time American Sign Language instructor at the university. Davis, who is deaf, has made it his goal to not only teach his classes American Sign Language but also teach the OU student body the importance of deaf culture and a strong deaf community. Once a year, Davis goes to the Shoppes at Northpark mall in Oklahoma City to play Santa Claus for children who are deaf and hard of hearing — something deeply important for representation among deaf children. In the spirit of the holidays, The Crim-
BY NICK HAZELRIGG
son Quarterly sat down with Davis to learn more about one of his favorite days of the year.
time, they had deaf children coming in and there was a Santa Claus who could communicate with them.
How did you start being Santa for deaf children?
Where was the first location you were Santa Claus?
My mother, she owned a daycare, and as she tended to have a Christmas celebration, I would do Santa Claus for her daycare. But it wasn’t related to deaf children — it was hearing kids who I was dressing up for. Then in 2015, the Rotary Club was looking for someone to replace their Santa Claus. Somehow, someone gave them my name, and for the first
So, we went ahead and started at (the Shoppes at Northpark mall) in Oklahoma City, and that’s where the children would come together, and that’s what started this special day for deaf and hard of hearing children.
GARY DAVIS Q&A CONTINUED ON PAGE 30
What is the routine like when you’re portraying Santa Claus for deaf children? It’s a little bit different. The standard Santa Claus is the, “Sit on my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas.” I do things a little different. Because of (American Sign Language), we need eye contact, and if they’re sitting on my lap, we can’t really get that. That’s part of deaf culture. So the child comes up and stands near me or sits next to me on the chair. I ask them what their name is, what they want for Christmas, of course, and if they have a name sign, which is something unique to American Sign Language. Then, they’ll tell me the list of things they want for Christmas. Then, they sit on my lap for a picture. How do the children react when they get to see a Santa Claus that speaks their language? The first thing I notice is that the children initially look like they’re about to just see another hearing Santa that they won’t be able to communicate with and all they’ll get is a picture. Then, when they see I’m signing, “Hello,” they’re a little surprised, and they wait to see if I can do more than just greet them, and when they see I can, they’re shocked. I tell them, “I’m deaf,” and they excitedly tell me that they’re deaf, too. They’re so excited to communicate with Santa without relying on someone else. They just start talking, and they tell me so many things. As an advocate for the deaf community, how meaningful is this experience for you? It’s very important. Deaf children are born, and they grow up, and they don’t have a language or a culture, they just live in the hearing world. They have a hearing family, and they don’t see other deaf children sometimes. 30
I had the same experience they’re going through, and it’s tough. You have some tough years. I want to show them that they do have their own identity, group, language and culture. I want them to feel included. I want them to know they’re not isolated, that there is someone out there just like them. Any favorite stories from your time as Santa? I remember there was a 6- or 7-yearold girl, and she had a little bit of an attitude when she came to see me. She was fed up with hearing people and not being able to communicate, and I tried to explain to her that I’m deaf, and I’m just like her. She didn’t believe me. So I tried to share that I had the same experience and that I grew up deaf just like her. I told her I wasn’t the real Santa Claus but that I was actually deaf. It took her some time, but she came around, and she told me that she wanted her parents to learn sign language. I was stunned — how can Santa Claus gift her that request? I didn’t know how to answer. I thought about it and told her together we would write a letter to Santa saying that she hoped her parents would learn sign language, and then I told her to put it under her Christmas tree. And maybe her parents would see that letter and change her life and theirs. I don’t know if that happened, but I really hope it was a step in the right direction. Are you excited to be Santa again this year? I’m so excited. Since 2015, I’ve noticed all the children who come back and see me again, and they’re all growing up. And now, here we are in 2019. New kids will come, and the older ones have grown. I’m looking forward to December. We don’t have our dates yet, but I’m hoping the event will continue every year. But it’s only one day — that feels so limited. But something is better than nothing. It’s OK.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Q & A “
I tell them, ‘I’m deaf,’ and they excitedly tell me that they’re deaf, too. They’re so excited to communicate with Santa without relying on someone else. They just start talking, and they tell me so many things.
They had a hearing Santa for the public, so we picked one day specifically for deaf and hard of hearing children to have a Santa they can communicate with.
Gary Davis, OU American Sign Language instructor
Odds & Ends O C T. 3
O C T. 8
THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION OKLAHOMA GROUP GIVES OU’S BOARD OF REGENTS THE 2019 “BLACK HOLE AWARD,” WHICH RECOGNIZES “AN INDIVIDUAL, AGENCY OR ORGANIZATION THAT HAS MOST THWARTED THE FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION.”
NEWS WEBSITE NONDOC REPORTS THAT OKLAHOMA SEN. JAMES LANKFORD AND OU REGENT FRANK KEATING SAID THE UNIVERSITY SHOULD RELEASE MORE INFORMATION REGARDING THE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATION INTO FORMER OU PRESIDENT DAVID BOREN.
O C T. 2 2
THE OU BOARD OF REGENTS ELECTED BUSINESSMAN
GARY PIERSON, WHO
WAS APPOINTED TO THE BOARD IN APRIL, AS THE BOARD’S CHAIR EFFECTIVE MARCH 2020.
REGENT ALSO ANNOUNCED HE WOULD
RESIGN FROM THE BOARD EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.
O C T. 1 8 Interim OU President Joseph Harroz announces that Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, currently the University of Central Florida’s assistant vice president for student development and enrollment services, will join OU as vice president for diversity and inclusion.
O C T. 3 0
Interim OU President Joseph Harroz says university landscaping services will remain in-house. It was previously rumored the university would outsource its landscaping services to outside contractors before this announcement.
The Sooners defeat the Longhorns, 34-27, in the 115th Red River Rivalry football game between OU and Texas. The game was a showcase of OU’s increased defensive prowess under new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
OU sends a mass email inviting students to apply for this year’s campus awards, which have been renamed to provide more genderinclusive recognition. The “Big Man/Big Woman on Campus” award is now the “OU Campus Life Award.”
Vocal performance and marketing junior Justin Norris and political science sophomore Dalton Gau were elected SGA president and vice president, respectively, defeating two other sets of candidates and garnering 69 percent of the vote.
O C T. 1 7
O C T. 1 2
O C T. 9
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