Over the past week or so, there has been plenty of media coverage about an error made at OU. According to news reports, 5,500 students received an email in error stating they had received a generous scholarship that they had not earned and were not eligible to receive. It goes without saying that this is a very unfortunate mistake. But as I read the criticism of my alma mater, some of which is harsh, it makes me wonder about those who are making such criticisms. Look, we can all agree that the error led to disappointment for those who received the email, but as I understand it, the error was quickly recognized and subsequently corrected within hours. The message of my blog today is not to focus on the error, but to focus on forgiveness. I have no doubt that the person or persons responsible feel terrible. If we’re being honest with ourselves, all of us are one wrong number or word, or one wrong keystroke away from producing a mistake. Of course, we want to avoid errors to the best of our ability, especially when it impacts others. Mistakes that cause injury or loss of life are the kind that require absolute scrutiny. Those that cause disappointment are unfortunate, but disappointment is an everyday part of life. As I was reading some of the harshest critics of the error, I started to think about those making the criticisms. Do they believe they have never made a mistake? Do they believe they will never make a mistake? Will they gladly accept harsh criticism like the kind they are dishing out if they make a mistake, or is criticism only reserved for others? Perhaps only a perfect person can stand in judgment of others. I’ve never met someone perfect before, but it’s got to be quite a burden to carry.
There’s no doubt that OU regrets the mistake. There’s no doubt the person responsible for sending the email regrets their mistake. If one of those scholarship award emails was sent to my child and then retracted, I too would be disappointed. But once I learned of the error and realized my child hadn’t qualified to receive it, I know this for certain. I’d forgive them and move on. Despite an error that is getting attention, OU remains a great university.
Thomas Tanghe, City Manager