Year In Review
Students' belongings remain locked in Students for a Democratic Society's office after its closure
Mark Brockway, The Oklahoma Daily
Three weeks after OU officials locked up Students for a Democratic Society’s office and removed personal items left by a homeless man living there, all the items that were in the office are either still there or being held by administrators.
Since the society was evicted from the office April 12, only one member has contacted Laura Tontz, Oklahoma Memorial Union's director, to retrieve items from the office. Tontz, who has the only key to the office, is arranging a time to meet with the student to give back the items, she said.
Other than that, Tontz has not received any inquiries about the office or let anyone in since it was cleared out, she said.
On April 12, OU administration removed items from the office that were “a nuisance and causing bulk” and left a note on the locked door saying students must contact Tontz to access the office, Clarke Stroud, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, told The Daily in a story published online April 15.
OU administration evicted the student society from the office after The Daily reported that one of the society's members was letting a homeless man live and drink alcohol there.
The Daily had discovered the man living in the office after an anonymous source under the alias “SGA Deepthroat” emailed The Daily news account on April 4 with a tip that people were possibly living and drinking alcohol in the office.
Daily reporters walked over to the office that day and found an estimated 15 beer cans, a bottle of vodka, a box that appeared to contain unopened beer and a student sleeping on the couch, which was converted into a makeshift bed.
When The Daily was investigating whether OU would let the man stay in the office, Kristen Partridge, assistant dean of students and director of OU Student Life, said it’s the responsibility of OU’s Student Government Association president to take action if a student organization is misusing an office, according to an April 8 article.
Three days later, The Daily reported that SGA president at the time, Joe Sangirardi, said he wasn’t going to remove the man from the office because he didn’t want to be the person responsible for throwing someone out on the street and at the time OU administration hadn’t made plans to remove him.
The same day The Daily printed that story reporting that the man might be able to stay in the office, OU administration went into the office when he wasn’t there and removed all his personal items, cleaned the office and locked the door, according to a story published online April 15.
Sangirardi said in the story that OU administration took control of the situation because it went beyond his jurisdiction over the offices in the Conoco Student Leadership Wing.
While SGA has control over how the offices are used, the university has an overriding obligation to make sure the offices are safe, secure and sanitary, Stroud said in the story.
“With the condition of the office we had to do something,” Stroud said in the story. “…We had to get the place cleaned up.”