The mud Jabar Shumate threw at OU isn’t sticking…
5:43 PM EDT on July 26, 2018
OU President Jim Gallogly's tenure is getting off to a great, controversial start.
Yesterday afternoon, Jabar Shumate – the newest casualty in Gallogly's campaign to dismantle David Boren's good old boy network – held a "calling all TV news vans" press conference yesterday claiming he was forced to resign from his position as Chief Diversity Officer as part of a "high-tech lynching."
Here's the video:
Here's a bullet point breakdown to catch you up to speed:
• Shumate – a former Oklahoma State Representative and Senator – was appointed to the position of Chief Diversity Officer in 2015 by David Boren. He oversaw the Office of University Community that is located at the old SAE frat house.
• Earlier this week, Shumate was called to HR and given the option to either resign or be fired – a special honor that OU generally only reserves for football coaches and regents.
• He claims the firing came not long after he learned that the Office of University Community would have to relocate because the SAE Fraternity was returning to campus and taking back its house. I think we can all agree the optics on that would look terrific, and not generate any outrage or negative media attention in Oklahoma.
• He then alleged that OU has, and will, attack his character and make "slanderous" accusations, which all constitute "a high-tech lynching."
The "high-tech lynching" part may seem a bit extreme, especially from the perch of white privilege, but those are some serious allegations. If what he is alluding to is true, and OU fired its Chief Diversity Officer because he knew about the return of a racist fraternity to the OU campus, then we another serious, high-profile racism problem at OU that needs to be addressed and investigated immediately.
That being said, it looks like the mud Shumate threw at OU isn't sticking.
After Shumate's media event, OU went on the offensive. They claimed an internal audit determined Shumate misused "university assets." They responded yesterday evening with the following statement:
When confronted with an audit that concluded last week, which revealed a significant misuse of university assets, Jabar Shumate resigned and the university accepted his resignation. OU highly values and appreciates the position of the chief diversity officer and the office of university community. Because this was not a preplanned exit, the university has not yet named an interim chief diversity officer. We are seeking new leadership for that position immediately.
The SAE fraternity is not reopening a chapter at the University of Oklahoma and the audit and discovery of misuse of funds had nothing to do with this topic.
I guess OU's accusation of a "significant misuse of university assets" was the big "slanderous accusation" Shumate warned against. OU then doubled-down by releasing the audit findings. From the looks of it, Shumate repeatedly and excessively used the Office of Community's 2016 Chevy Tahoe for personal reasons, which ironically violates a state law he voted for as a State Representative in 2005.
Here are details via NewsOK.com:
An internal audit by the University of Oklahoma shows OU's former chief diversity officer misused a university vehicle and made false travel claims.
OU released the audit Thursday, one day after Jabar Shumate announced he is considering legal action against OU because of his forced resignation based on "false accusations."
Anil Gollahalli, general counsel for the university, said Shumate violated both state law and university policy by using the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe for travel to and from home and work, as well as on personal trips.
"The documentation is there," Gollahalli said. "It's against the policy and against the law."
OU President Jim Gallogly asked for an audit of certain state-owned vehicles at OU that had heavy use, Gollahalli said. The audit showed the other vehicles were used appropriately, he said.
An audit report on the Tahoe issued July 20 includes more than 100 violations in the past fiscal year, including trips to Tulsa during the holidays, Gollahalli said. It also shows two "false travel claims" for reimbursement for driving a personal car for times when the Tahoe was used.
TL;DR – Shumate was caught abusing his power and privilege. Considering the guy's a former lawmaker, I guess that shouldn't be surprising. Whether he was part of the Boren purge, or a victim of racism in its truest form, if OU was looking for an excuse to fire him, they sure did find it.
"Oh yeah, but what about SAE coming back to campus?"
When I first heard that, I didn't really believe it. I know OU has a sad history filled with racism and incompetence, but even I don't think they're that stupid. That would be dumber than bringing back Larry Cochell to coach the baseball team.
According to the OU Daily, even that appears to be a misrepresented half truth:
SAE’s national chapter told The Daily in an email there was no intention of a return to campus. OU’s General Counsel Anil Gollahalli also said Shumate’s claim was untrue.
Claims made by a former OU vice president that the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon is returning to OU have been disputed by OU’s general counsel and the national chapter of the fraternity...
SAE’s national chapter told The Daily in an email there was no intention of a return to campus. OU’s General Counsel Anil Gollahalli also said Shumate’s claim was untrue....
Gollahalli said while meeting [with Shumate] did happen, the content was different than what Shumate said. The meeting was a discussion of the fact that there was a legal dispute between OU and the SAE corporation over ownership of the former house, Gollahalli said. He said he discussed with Shumate ways to prepare for, in case at some point in the future, OU no longer having access to the property.
“At no time did we say ... that (SAE) is coming back. Those discussions aren't made by real estate or the general counsel's office. Those will be happening at the presidential level and the board of regents level,” Gollahalli said. “We have had discussions about (Shumate’s) operations there and what he needs in the short term, long term, other locations that might be suitable, because we're always looking to figure out how do we vacate that property on a longer term basis because it's not part of the core campus.”
I don't trust big institutions. Then again, I also don't trust government employees who misuse state vehicles. To find out what really happened, maybe OU needs to conduct an investigation. Perhaps it can be a project for OU's new Chief Diversity Officer – preferably one who doesn't use their state vehicle for holiday trips out-of-town. That way, OU President Jim Gallogly can not only save a little PR face and show he cares about diversity, but also get a say on what the investigation finds, a tradition OU presidents have enjoyed for over a century.
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