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College Recruiter Fired After Lining Up Students By Skin Color And Hair Texture At Metro High School

College Recruiter Fired After Lining Up Students By Skin Color And Hair Texture At Metro High School

An exercise that was to “illustrate” racism totally backfired for one college recruiter in Oklahoma while victimizing unsuspecting high school students. Cedric Sunray poses in a classroom on the Pawnee Nation College campus, Tuesday, June 13, 2006, in Pawnee, Okla, where he is a student. A desire to learn how to teach American Indian languages and determination to build a better life drove Sunray to be one of 90 people enrolled at Pawnee Nation College when it started classes last fall. (AP Photo/Mel Root)

An exercise that was to “illustrate” racism totally backfired for one college recruiter in Oklahoma while victimizing unsuspecting high school students. The recruiter from Oklahoma Christian University was visiting Harding Charter Preparatory School in Oklahoma City on Feb. 24. He was meeting with juniors when he asked the students to line up according to skin tone and hair texture. 

“He told us nappiest hair in the back and straighter hair in the front,” student Rio Brown told KFOR. “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.’ ”

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The college recruiter, Cedric Sunray, has since been fired. 

According to a statement from Harding Principal Steven Stefanick that was obtained by People magazine, “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 are 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.”

In a statement to People, the university said the recruiter has since been fired, as admissions leadership at the school “did not approve the inappropriate activity in advance.”

“The statement also said that admissions staff would visit Harding to personally apologize to staff and students on behalf of the university,” People reported.

University President John DeSteiguer said the university plans to implement mandatory cultural sensitivity training for employees.

“I’m very ashamed and embarrassed,” he reportedly told students and staff. “I’m mad about this. This doesn’t represent Oklahoma Christian, so I just want to apologize to the students.”

The fired recruiter Sunray, however, stands by his “exercise,” which he says he has conducted 87 times.

In a lengthy statement to The Christian Chronicle, he defended his teaching methods as “unorthodox, humorous, challenging, and, most importantly, necessary.”

“My Black and non-Black students, their families, my colleagues and others will attest to this and be quick to support my character, intention and more typical results,” wrote Sunray who described himself as a member of a Native American tribe with a “white racial phenotype.”

“Nothing I spoke at Harding Charter Preparatory during an initial ‘ice-breaker’ session had any intention of promoting a racist agenda. My presentations are the opposite. They are intended to take a hard look at issues such as this. The most dangerous things in education are those we are unwilling to discuss. And sometimes when those discussions occur, misunderstanding and even anger can be the result.”