Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:26 PM to provide additional information regarding campus conditions.
At 6:01 PM, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for southeast Osage County and central Tulsa County. A minute later, a second warning was issued for parts of Rogers and Mayes counties due to radar indicated rotation. This triggered a series of coordinated plans across RSU Claremore.
Earlier in the day, university faculty and staff were encouraged to leave at 3:00 PM, and RSUPD and the Office of Residential Life began preparations. At that time, only a tornado watch was issued by the weather service. The on-campus tornado shelter located in Chapman Dining Hall was unlocked, and the Office of Residential Life began the challenge of balancing social distancing with emergency management.
The Office of Residential Life began placing painter’s tape in six-foot increments in the basement of Chapman Dining in anticipation of a shelter-in-order decision. “It was ingenious these [tape markings],” said RSU student Cole Chandler. Chandler is a resident assistant in University Village C.
At 6:06 PM, the RSU Office of Public Relations sent a campus-wide text message to students.
RSU Alert: Rogers County is under a tornado warning. Take safety precautions and monitor local weather stations.RSU OFFICE of public relations
With the text message sent, university staff began directing the approximate 100 residents still living on campus to Chapman Dining Hall. While most students ignored the social distancing recommendations, several donned masks provided by the Office of Residential Life. Students primarily gathered in circles of friends or clung to the walls of the room.
RSU President Larry Rice and First Lady Peggy Rice mingled with the students. Along with the Rice family, Vice President for Student Affairs Robert Goltra and his family were present.
Less than an hour later, the Office of Residential Life gave an all-clear notice to the assembled residents. Students were permitted to leave. “I think David, our RA’s did a great job,” said Chandler who was off duty at the time.
No exterior building damage occurred at the RSU Claremore campus. Minor roof leakage and subsequent flooding in a Chapman Dining Hall restroom was reported.
At 8:00 PM, more than a dozen counties in northeast Oklahoma remained under a tornado watch until 11:00 PM.
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Student Government Holds First Meeting: Recognizes Black Student Association
In their first meeting of the academic year, 36 students attended the Student Government Association Congress meeting. “We’re excited to have you hear, especially in person,” said student government vice president Darci Johnson.
Beginning at 1:21 p.m., the SGA called the meeting to order. All officers of the student government gave reports on their offices. SGA Public Relations Director Caden Coleman announced a freshman council and shared his social media account as a source of information. SGA President Madison McLaughlin and SGA Director of Diversity and Inclusion Yleana Esparza also shared their social media accounts.
Currently, the SGA Congress has not approved appropriations or formally established a freshman student government council. New business included recognizing two student organizations at RSU.
“We hope we get this student organization back on track,” said RSU student Giovanni Wahome. He represented the International Student Association and spoke about the perspective of international students at RSU. The International Student Association has previously been recognized as a registered student organization at RSU but fell into bad-standing with the SGA.
Wahome described disparities in international student services offered at RSU compared to other institutions under the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. Vice President Johnson objected to further questions by the Hill News regarding the association’s experience attempting to be recognized as a registered student organization again.
The International Student Association was officially recognized by the SGA Congress and passed unanimously. RSU student Kira Carter then presented Brothers and Sisters for Excellence, a proposed black student association, to the SGA Congress.
“It’s going to allow students to make connections,” said Carter. RSU has not had a recognized black student organization since being accredited as a four year, regional university.
“We can spread diversity across campus,” explained Carter. She described that Brothers and Sisters for Excellence as an inclusive student organization for RSU students. The proposed student organization was recognized and passed unanimously.
SGA President McLaughlin recognized incoming RSU Student Activities Coordinator Katie Warnick to share announcements. Warnick began working on August 25, 2020, and oversees campus events, student organization support services, and other university recreational activities.
Warnick announced that student organizations at RSU will be expected to adhere to COVID-19 activity guidelines. Warnick also announced that the SGA will be hosting the Student Organization Leadership Retreat on September 11, 2020. This annual event is traditionally required for student organizations in the spring semester but was not held to COVID-19.
RSU Libraries shared information about upcoming campus events, and President McLaughlin adjourned the meeting at 2:02 p.m.