Community Reacts to UCO Conservative
After the Instagram account UCO Conservative criticized the University of Central Oklahoma as being biased “when it comes to politics and races,” several student organizations have continued to raise concerns over the incident.
Jordan Broiles, Diversity Round Table president, said in a press release that “I understand right now frustration[s] are very high and emotions are being triggered[,] however, we have to stayed focused on the end goal of making UCO a more inclusive and diverse institution.”
Minbo Sim, president of the UCO Korean Student Association, commented on the original post explaining the misunderstanding, and offered to meet in person to discuss more about the case. The account owner declined the request and said, “the conversation was ended a week ago.”
Sim requested that the account owner delete the comment if they do not want to talk more about this issue, but his request was ignored.
“I felt extremely uncomfortable when the comment was made in our event,” Sim said. “Because firstly, the comment was not true[,] and secondly, the people who did not come to our event would misunderstand when they see the comment.”
Sim said the event was initialized by the Consulate General of South Korea in Houston, Texas and the Korean Association of Oklahoma. UCO only gave them the permission to book the venue and prepare what was needed for the event via the International Student Council.
“We have never had anything similar happen before that I am aware of,” said Amanda Goh, ISC president.
After The Vista published the story and tweeted it, an account named @UCOFascist replied with a Tweet that read, “If you thought that unofficial @UCOBronchos group was terrifying, wait until you see our rhetoric.”
While the account described itself as “the official Twitter of the unofficial UCO Fascist Society,” the account has been inactive since Oct. 25.
“Though accounts like @UCOFascist or @UCOConservative do not share opinions that represent the values of UCO as an institution or community, nor the personal values of many of our students, faculty and staff, their posts thus far are protected under the First Amendment as freedom of expression,” said Adrienne Nobles, assistant vice president for University Communications .
David Macey, assistant vice president for Global and Cultural Competencies, said that UCO will be happy to provide a safe space for discussion on the concern for topics like this.
“You have the right to speak these [comments], but also to responsibly own what you say,” Macey said. “But, it also hurts to give the same way of authority to an anonymous statement… You can’t have a conversation with an anonymous [source].”
Goh said that freedom of speech is what America is built on, and she is completely fine with people having their own opinions.
“However, it becomes a problem when someone is purposely attacking another person or organization,” Goh said.
Nobles said that UCO monitors social media for mentions of the university and works with others on campus for the appropriate response if they see any problems. They report the social media account if they use the UCO logo or images without permission or are falsely representing themselves as official representatives of the university.
“An account would also be reported if the person behind it engaged in threatening behavior toward a student or students, or threatened the UCO campus or any other threat of violence or illegal act,” Nobles said. “In the case of threats, we would also engage law enforcement.”
It is a little bit of gray area to figure out whether an account violates policy when they use “UCO” in their username, according to Nobles. In the case of @UCOFascist, they were representing themselves as “unofficial,” which does provide some separation from the university.
“Accounts run into issues when they attempt to look like they are an official representative of an entity, like a university, when there is no formal connection,” Nobles said.