Letter to the Editor: Langston Made The Best of a Bad Situation

After reading your commentary/article about the Langston University OCR settlement, it was clear to me that you did not have a chance to speak with the LU President or any involved Alumni before publishing.  It was also apparent that you may not be familiar with the basis for the actual Office of Civil Rights Complaint.  

Only the U.S Dept. of ED., Office of Civil Rights could settle this complaint. For 18 years, this office has maintained a strong position that any agreement must meet their standard.  Those requirements included restoring Langston University Tulsa with 'high' demand programs, protected from duplication by other institutions.  This would ensure an increased enrollment of non-majority, (White, other), students at Langston University which resulted in significant progress in 'desegregating’ Oklahoma's High Ed System. 

Oklahoma violated its agreement with the Office of Civil Rights in the late 1900s and early 2000s by allowing other schools to duplicate the very LU Tulsa Programs protected by the original agreement.  That violation is what led to the filing of the complaint to OCR by university alumni. 

Throughout the 18 years, any and ALL agreements made between LU/OSU/State of Oklahoma have been rejected by the Office of Civil Rights because they did not meet the requirement of desegregating Higher Ed in the state.

You are missing the point that Oklahoma is a conservative state dealing with a conservative national administration.  Better agreements were offered during both the Bush and Obama administrations and the response from OCR was that the agreements did not satisfy the requirement established by OCR.  

When you consider the political environment, and the reality that OCR settled the multi-million dollar complaint for $750,000 without consulting with alumni nor the LU President, it was far better than it would have been if President Smith had not already been in talks with OSU. 

It is very probable that LU would not have gotten the $15 million or any of the other things mentioned in the settlement agreement.

Additionally, Langston is not walking away from Tulsa but in fact, will have a healthcare focus.  In this agreement, Langston maintained ownership of all Tulsa assets and has already broken ground on a second $16 million dollar Health Sciences building on the LU Tulsa Campus site.

I am hopeful that you will take the time to visit with the LU President or involved Alumni to update your commentary.  HBCUs need supportive Black voices, not uninformed critical ones.

David J. Stephens is the Past National President of the Langston University National Alumni Association.