OSU-Tulsa class change could harm Langston, critics say
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
3/06/13 at 8:07 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday passed a measure that would allow Oklahoma State University to offer accounting courses at its Tulsa campus, something currently reserved for Langston University.
Senate Bill 59, by Sen. Brian Crain, now heads to the House after securing approval by a vote of 36-10.
Currently, only Langston is allowed to offer courses in accounting, sociology and psychology in Tulsa, said Crain, R-Tulsa.
Many students take a bus to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater to take the accounting courses rather than take them from Langston University in Tulsa, Crain said.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 58, also by Crain, that makes it optional rather than mandatory that Langston offer courses in Tulsa.
Sen. James Halligan, R-Stillwater, said the situation has been a long-standing issue in Tulsa and needs to move forward toward a resolution. Halligan is the former president of Oklahoma State University.
The measures passed despite criticism from Sen. Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa, who said the measures run afoul of an agreement the state made with the Office of Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Education regarding Langston University following a complaint that was filed.
Shumate said he was concerned that the measures could jeopardize federal funding to other higher education institutions in the state.
Likewise, Langston University President Kent J. Smith, Jr. said neither measure was favorable to Langston.
He said the university has no intention of not offering courses in Tulsa.
If OSU in Tulsa offers accounting, it will create a very serious problem, Smith said.
He said there is a decrease in his university's enrollment if courses are duplicated.
Shumate said the courses were protected as part of a desegregation plan.
Smith said Langston University has been working with the Office of Civil Rights and others to come up with an agreement that would sustain Langston in Tulsa for the long term.
"We are not at a point where we have an official agreement," Smith said. "All this legislation would do is antagonize a lot of people."
He said the bill is a travesty and "slap in the face" to Langston University.
"On the surface, these bills might not seem particularly troublesome; however, upon a closer examination, these bills regrettably reveal a veiled attempt to undermine Langston University in Tulsa and threaten its existence," Smith said in a statement.
"The bills are unconstitutional and do not value the significance of the state's only historically black university. We will put forth an aggressive effort to work with the House of the Representatives where we hope to receive more thoughtful consideration of bills relating to Langston University."
Crain said it is his goal that four-year degrees be attainable in Tulsa and to provide more options.
Original Print Headline: OSU-Tulsa class-change bill irks Langston backer
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Sen. Brian Crain: He proposed the bill to aid students who prefer to take the accounting course at OSU-Tulsa instead of Langston.
State Sen. Jabar Shumate: He fears the proposed legislation may violate an agreement the state made with the Office of Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Education regarding Langston University following a complaint. Shumate said the courses are protected as part of a desegregation agreement.