Dear Student Publications,
I recently read the Editors’ opinion concerning whether felons should be accepted into OCU There are a few issues with the editorial I would like address. Additionally, it is important to understand that I bring this to your attention, not for purposes of condemnation, but with the intent of education.
The first part of the article I would like to analyze is the statement “The university has a responsibility to its students-and their parents-to keep students safe. This includes communicating about things that could put them in danger.” While I do agree that the university is responsible for the safety of its students, it is imperative for us to understand that due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) the university is legally unable to release information about students. While it might seem like a reasonable action, we have to understand that there is no legal way for the university to release this information.
Additionally, I would like to address the editors’ statement on the expectations of our University. The editors can be quoted as saying “There’s a higher expectation of safety and protection when enrolling a student into a private, Methodist university like OCU.” I am not sure if any of the Student Publication staff know the history of the United Methodist Church, so I will share part of it now. John Wesley, who is credited as the founder of the United Methodist Church, was known to visit prisons and minister to those in the institutions. Wesley did not stop there. He went so far as to fight for prison reform. It is important to understand this when considering the Methodist mantra “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” This should be the expectation, not the exception, when attending a United Methodist university. When analyzed in conjunction with one another, Wesleyan theology, along with United Methodist principles, show us that the expectation of safety we experience on this campus should be extended to all parties. I am proud of how OCU has shown this to all individual regardless of background, political ideology, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or past transgressions. It is because of the pride I have in our university that statements like “but when a student has felonies, officials should reject their admission,” are disheartening. The callousness seen in statements like these are not conducive to inclusive environments that hold United Methodist values.
In closing, if we look at this issue through a lens of legal principles working in conjunction with our University’s United Methodist values, it is imperative to understand that the current system our office of admissions upholds is one that should make us proud to be students of Oklahoma City University.
– Blake Lemmons, political science sophomore, in conjunction with Melaina Riley, religion junior.