UCOSA President Apologizes to SAFE
During the coverage of the Ken Ham controversy, the University of Central Oklahoma’s LGBTQ+ and Student Alliance for Equality communities were incorrectly accused of bullying UCO Student Association President Stockton Duvall into rescinding Ham’s invitation to speak. As a result, Duvall issued a public apology to the SAFE community at the SAFE Picnic on March 13 at Hafer Park in Edmond.
“The SAFE members who attended have told me that it was a good first step to rectify UCOSA’s alienation of SAFE and LGBT+ students throughout this process,” said SAFE President Rachel Watson. “One member stated that there is still work for Stockton to do to make amends with the others who were hurt in this process, and what further steps he takes will determine how those affected will get through things.”
In the midst of the controversy, a news outlet obtained emails Duvall had sent using the term “LGBT community,” which led some outlets to believe it was UCO’s entire LGBTQ+ community and SAFE that had bullied Duvall.
Duvall later said that he was bullied into the decision by The Women’s Research Center and BLGTQ+ Student Center on campus. The Center later denied these claims.
However, due to the original misinformation, several people in the SAFE organization received messages from the community regarding Duvall’s decision.
“The first I heard of Stockton apologizing for the way his words impacted our organization came from President Duvall in a meeting between him, myself, Dr. Macey and Mr. Stanley on Tuesday, February 27,” Watson said. “Stockton asked that we meet to discuss the events after he heard that SAFE was getting messages about the controversial speaker from community members.”
At the SAFE picnic, Duvall started the speech by thanking Watson for having him and UCOSA Chair Remington Dean at the picnic to speak.
Duvall brought up the Ken Ham controversy, the releasing of his emails and mentioned that Fox News was one of the first news outlets to release something on the situation. Duvall said, referring to Fox News, that obviously accuracy was not ideal in that situation.
“One of the first things that I wanted to first off apologize for, so one of the things that is said through the media and everything is that I used the term LGBT community in one of my emails, and that’s something that I shouldn’t have done,” Duvall said in his speech.
Duvall then said that the way he writes in emails and the way he speaks are two different things. He also said that he did not go to Fox News, but that his emails were released to them.
“That’s just something that I wanted to kind of clarify and I was able to talk with Rachel [Watson] and Dr. Macey a little more in detail about that, but she [Watson] was able to welcome me here and let me be able to kind of address that to you guys,” Duvall said in his speech.
Duvall then took this time to talk about all the things UCOSA is currently doing, such as setting up advisory boards in each college and moving Uber to 24/7 so that it is not just for those who want to use it at night.
Duvall then let Dean speak on some of the other things UCOSA is working on and present his personal presidential vision for UCOSA as the new elected president for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Duvall finished the speech by encouraging students to get involved in UCOSA next year.
“I do not believe that Mr. Duvall ever intended to harm SAFE or any student of UCO,” Watson said. “As student body president, he serves all students on campus and his actions inadvertently caused a lot of stress for SAFE. After finding this out, he sought a meeting with me to apologize for the damage done to SAFE, which leads me to believe that his apology is sincere.”