Oklahoma Christian University Recruiter Told Students to Line Up According to Skin Color and Hair Texture

Students at Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, were told to line up according to the color of their skin by a college recruiter, according to local news reports. Teenagers were then told to rank themselves based on their hair—specifically, on how "nappy" or not it was.

Juniors spoke to reporters at News 4, explaining that a representative from Oklahoma Christian University said little about the school itself and instead, asked students to "play a little game" without any explanation why.

On February 24, eleventh graders were first made to line up, with those with the lightest skin at one end and those with the darkest skin at the other end.

"He told us to line up—nappiest hair in the back and straightest hair in the front," Rio Brown, a student at Harding Charter, told News 4.

The behavior of the college admissions counselor offended the school's teachers, Brown explained. "Teachers left. They were crying, and they were offended. Their faces just look disgusted. I know they had a talk with him after, like, 'That's not OK,'" he told News4.

"It's just horrible," said Brown. "I hope it is a wake up call because many people at the school need to hear how we feel."

Korey Todd, also a student at Harding Charter, told reporters the exercise made him feel "uncomfortable."

"He was actually a white male," said Todd. "It seemed like he wasn't really knowledgeable how to speak to people even in a diverse school. He did not rationalize why he did 'this game.'"

In a statement sent to Newsweek the university said the admissions counselor who visited Harding Charter Preparatory Academy is "no longer an Oklahoma Christian University (OC) employee" and representatives will visit the school on Monday (March 2) to issue an apology for his behavior.

It read: "The OC admissions counselor who visited Harding Charter Preparatory Academy on Monday is no longer an Oklahoma Christian University employee. OC admissions leadership did not approve the inappropriate activity in advance and has communicated closely with Harding administration since the visit. Admissions staff are scheduled to visit the academy Monday to apologize to Harding students and staff on behalf of the University."

Harding Charter Preparatory Principal Steven Stefanick issued a written statement to Newsweek sent via a spokesperson, condemning the actions and reaffirming the school's commitment to diversity.

"Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City for the last seventeen years has established a diverse and inclusive environment geared towards providing a college preparatory curriculum to all that join our school community," said Stefanick.

"What led from the session was an exercise involving inappropriate and hurtful statements, which will never be tolerated in our school community. The sequence of events that the staff members of Harding Charter Preparatory, stunned and distraught with the students, were quick to react by going to school administration immediately while some staff remained with the students. Over the years, we have had a strong relationship with the university and have never encountered events as such.

"As a school community, we are proud of our students and staff members for taking a stand on the issue and showcasing our community values of diversity, inclusion , and a safe and supportive learning environment."

Empty School Gymnasium
Stock image of school gym. Students at Harding Charter Preparatory High School recall being told to line up according to skin color and hair texture in a gym assembly. Mariakray/iStock / Getty Images Plus