Trend: Academic freedom

By DREW HUTCHINSON

Adorning the University of Oklahoma seal is the image of a man, shaded from the sun by his hat, sprinkling seeds on the plowed earth. Below the image are the words “Civi et reipublicae,” which translate to “For the benefit of the citizen and the state.”

OU Provost Kyle Harper said this phrase reflects OU’s dedication to preparing students for both civic life and careers — a mission he said public universities should embrace.

Part of this mission, he said, involves upholding the principles of academic freedom, which give faculty full freedom in research and publication. Harper said this protects free inquiry, which he said benefits students and promotes deep-rooted values of democracy.

“Universities ought to be places where people are exposed to different ideas, where there’s respectful disagreement, where students form their opinions and are challenged to think about what they believe … ” Harper said.

This year, more than 30 colleges and universities have revived their chapters of the American Association of University Professors, an academic freedom advocacy group, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. OU is not among these institutions, a faculty member said. But the issue of academic freedom is alive at the university, for better or worse.

Academic freedom at OU
Megan Elwood Madden, OU Faculty Senate chair, said she estimates academic freedom comes up once per year in her organization, often in differing contexts.

“For example, one of the questions we posed to President (James) Gallogly … focused on the potential effects of private funding and gifts on academic integrity and academic freedom at OU,” Elwood Madden said. “In other cases, Faculty Senate discussions about syllabi and course materials have also included questions about academic freedom.”

Harper also said very few run-ins with academic freedom come to his attention annually. Harper, who earned a degree in letters from OU and a doctorate in history from Harvard University, has been provost since 2015, according to his webpage.

“(Academic freedom is) something that is so fundamental that it frames everything we do in a certain way, and it’s deeply embedded in the institution and practices like tenure,” Harper said. “But at the same time, how many controversial academic freedom issues ever arise? Very few.”

This year, OU has had two known run ins with the issue, one more explicit than the other, when the OU Daily uncovered and published stories on Brian McCall, former associate law dean, and Tom Orr, former school of drama director.

The Daily discovered McCall to be affiliated with three Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups: Catholic Family News, where McCall serves as editor-in-chief, The Remnant and The Fatima Center.

McCall also published a 2014 book called To Build the City of God: Living as Catholics in a Secular Age. The book contained controversial passages about women’s dress, women’s voting rights, separation of church and state, gay marriage and education.

“… if there is something really impossible to do in a skirt, does this not indicate this is an activity inappropriate for a woman to perform?” McCall wrote in the book. “A simple test of modest and feminine behavior can be summarized: if you can’t do it modestly and gracefully in a skirt, you shouldn’t do it at all.”

Cary Nelson, former president of the AAUP, said in The Daily’s story that McCall’s publications were protected under academic freedom as a professor but not as an administrator.

Shortly after the story ran, McCall resigned his associate deanship amid public pressure.

“Brian McCall has voluntarily resigned his position as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, effective immediately, because of the controversy about his personal statements,” Joseph Harroz, OU College of Law dean, said in a statement.

Some readers praised The Daily for exposing McCall’s views. NonDoc, an Oklahoma City news outlet, published an opinion piece by Lori Walke, a minister and Oklahoma City University law school graduate, on Oct. 5. Walke said in the piece that religious fundamentalists had no place in positions of authority.

“As disturbing as McCall’s beliefs are, Oklahomans should be relieved at the outing of these religious fundamentalists,” Walke wrote. “Their ideals are harmful and embarrassing.”

Others were outraged and said the incident was an attack on free speech and academic freedom. The Journal Record published an opinion piece by Andrew C. Spiropoulos, a frequent guest columnist for the publication, on Oct. 10. He said in the piece that the controversy surrounding McCall might make other traditionalists feel excluded from the OU community.

“We don’t know whether McCall was forced out, but we do know that a community genuinely dedicated to the principles of free inquiry and intellectual pluralism would never have let this story end this unhappily,” Spiropoulos wrote.

Harper said many cases of academic freedom arise from areas related to other campus policies.

“Academic freedom is generally something that might be invoked in the course of a conflict or controversy that’s about some other policy,” Harper said. “There are appropriate professional expectations that might be embedded in other policies, for instance, policies against harassment or discrimination, and … students, faculty, employees have mechanisms to pursue issues or problems through those channels.”

Academic freedom allows professors to conduct their classes however they please, unless their teaching displays an incompetence for their area of study, Nelson wrote in “Defining Academic Freedom” for Inside Higher Ed. Academic freedom also does not protect harassment, Nelson wrote.

Tom Orr, OU Helmerich School of Drama professor and former director of the department, also became a controversial figure after The Daily reported that multiple former students had accused him of sexual misconduct. The students said he would often make references to his sexual tastes in class, even disclosing that he was attracted to some of his students.

“Ray said one day, not many students showed up to class, so Orr took them to the campus Starbucks and bought them all coffee. They then sat down in the courtyard of the Oklahoma Memorial Union for class, and during this time Orr said his favorite students were always the ones ‘he’d like to fuck,’” The Daily reported.

In the same story, The Daily reported that a Title IX investigation did not produce substantial evidence of a policy violation on Orr’s part. He has since retained his professorship.

History and future of academic freedom
The provisions of academic freedom can be complicated and at times rely on case-by-case evaluations. In 2010, Inside Higher Ed published Nelson’s piece to break down the idea.

“Academic freedom gives both students and faculty the right to express their views — in speech, writing, and through electronic communication, both on and off campus — without fear of sanction, unless the manner of expression substantially impairs the rights of others or, in the case of faculty members, those views demonstrate that they are professionally ignorant, incompetent, or dishonest with regard to their discipline or fields of expertise,” Nelson wrote.

Academic freedom began to bloom in Medieval European universities, which were somewhat self-governing despite religious oversight, according to New World Encyclopedia. The concept gained traction with Martin Luther’s post on a church door — the Protestant Reformation created Protestant universities, which helped dismantle Catholic control of higher education.

But 19th century Germany is much to credit for academic freedom, University of Waterloo professor Shannon Dea wrote in a piece for Canadian news site University Affairs. Prussian philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt helped reform the country’s universities by coining “Lehrfreiheit” and “Lernfreiheit”: “freedom to teach” and “freedom to learn,” Dea wrote.

“(Academic freedom is) a value and an idea that develops in the early to mid 20th century with the modernization of the university … and arises out of efforts to exert political control over inquiry,” Harper said.

Dea wrote that in 1898, American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce gave a lecture at Harvard University, in which he criticized the vocational nature of American universities and praised Germany’s commitment to advancing knowledge. He even called German universities “the light of the whole world,” she wrote.

By 1915, the AAUP had formed and drafted its first statement on academic freedom, the 1915 Declaration of Principles, according to the organization’s website. The statement was revised in 1940 and again in 1970, according to the website, and more than 250 scholarly and professional associations now endorse it.

Rachel Larris, AAUP media and communications strategist, said the organization can redraft its academic freedom statement by joint action, but she said it’s impossible to estimate the likelihood.

Like many universities, OU derived its academic freedom policy from the AAUP’s statement, according to the faculty handbook, which contains a section on the issue. The handbook states that faculty members are “entitled to full freedom in research and publication.”

“As a citizen engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, the university teacher has a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom,” the policy states.

However, faculty should make every attempt not to speak for the university when exercising their freedom, according to the handbook.

“As members of the community, university teachers have the rights and obligations of any citizen,” the policy states. “They measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities … In speaking or acting as private persons, faculty members should avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university.”

Shayla Powers, a senior English major at OU, said she was not aware of professors’ freedom of publication until this semester when she read The Daily’s story about McCall.

“I assumed that while (professors) may hold opinions in their personal lives, they would be limited in their ability to publish as representatives of the university,” Powers said. “The students of the university have moral and ethical standards that we are expected to uphold, and I guess I assumed that the professors would be held to those as well.”

She said she understands that universities rely on the free exchange of ideas, but she said professors should uphold the values of the institution.

Amid a perceived attack on academic freedom, more than 30 colleges and universities have formed or reinstated their AAUP chapters within the last year — most recently the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Elwood Madden said she hasn’t participated in any discussions of bringing an AAUP chapter to OU. But she said she and several other professors are members of the organization and participate in regional meetings.

Going forward, Powers said she thinks academic freedom should be scaled back. People must start to draw a line between right and wrong as society progresses, she said.

“I don’t think that academic freedom means that professors or whoever should be able to publish articles that perpetuate stereotypes or prejudices,” Powers said. “We should be better than that by now, especially here at a university that pushes the idea of inclusivity and diversity.”

Powers said she thinks unregulated freedom of publication can do harm, conscious or not, to students.

“As a woman, I don’t want to be taught by a professor that thinks women are inferior to men or anything like that,” Powers said. “Those kinds of beliefs are affecting the education that I pay thousands of dollars for and work extremely hard for, whether they want to acknowledge that or not.”

However, Harper said he has faith that academic freedom will stand the test of time. He said academic freedom may evolve, but it will likely remain embedded in the foundation of universities.

“On a day to day basis, most of us operate in an environment that is so infused with this value that we’re able to endure and benefit from this statement that’s now 78 years old,” Harper said. “In that way, it’s like many of the core values of our constitutional system that ultimately transcend any particular moment and endure challenges that may arise.”

Bikes and Bibles

By DREW HUTCHINSON

When Norman’s First Baptist Church receives bicycles from Buchanan Bicycles and other local partners, they are hunks of aluminum with few or no parts functioning. But after the church is done with them, the bicycles are able to transport children and underprivileged people to jobs, schools and places around town.

Bikes and Bibles has been a part of the church for 10 years and provides free bicycles and Bibles to children and disadvantaged people in Cleveland County, said Angela Atkins, minister of community ministries and director of the program. Through the program, a group of men from the church picks up discarded bicycles or bicycle parts from places around Norman, including Buchanan Bicycles, to fix. Dewayne Norvill, the lead mechanic of Buchanan Bicycles, said many materials that his shop donates to the church come from students.

“We get a lot of bikes that students have that they don’t want to spend the money to fix,” Norvill said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be $50 to fix that. I don’t want to do it.’ I have a pile in the back, and then once I get, you know, 10 or 15 piled up, then I give those guys a call and they come over with the trailer and load it all up and take it over (to the church).”

The Bikes and Bibles program is composed of Atkins, another monthly volunteer and a group of men, mostly retired, who Atkins calls the “bike team.”

“They make sure all the breaks work and the chains and all the stuff that needs to happen,” Atkins said. “They’re really cool guys.”

One of the longest-standing members of the team is Glen Hubbel, a 72-year-old retired postal worker who started fixing bicycles with the church around Thanksgiving of 2005. Members of the bike team have come and gone, but there are currently four consistent workers and a couple part-time workers, Hubbel said.

Hubbel said he first learned about bicycle mechanics from growing up next to a bicycle shop. He said he has had many occupations over his life, including some in mechanics, so fixing bicycles feels natural to him. For many of the men on the team, fixing bicycles is a significant, rewarding depart from a life spent in office work, Hubbel said.

“I enjoy the opportunity to do something with my hands after, you know, having another kind of job over the years and also the idea that something that we were doing would help out, you know, other people, kind of a way to give back,” Hubbel said. “It’s just a chance to work with your hands and turn out a finished product that somebody gets some good out of.”

The team is hard at work Tuesday and Friday mornings, and one of the most important parts of these days is the group’s fellowship with one another, Hubbel said. Atkins said she has often witnessed the men sitting in chairs around a coffee pot to drink, eat and talk.

“There’s always a coffee break,” Hubbel said. “Sometimes one of the guys’ wives will send some cookies or muffins or something, so it’s pretty laid back.”

Hubbel said the team members get along well because they all share a gratification for the intricate, sometimes dirty work of fixing bicycles.

“People that enjoy that kind of thing that don’t mind a challenge and that kind of personality seem to get along well together,” Hubbel said. “Some of the guys are retired engineers and that kind of thing — some of the people are woefully overqualified.”

Besides Buchanan Bicycles, the team also picks up bicycles from the Norman Police Department, the University of Oklahoma and private donors who contact the church, Atkins said. When people need a bicycle, Atkins said they call the church and she puts them on a waiting list.

“There’s certain restrictions, like we want (the recipients) to be in our county and . . . we prefer that they don’t have other transportation,” Atkins said. “This is a good way for them to get to work because even if you ride the bus, the buses don’t go everywhere.”

Though information about Bikes and Bibles is posted on the church website, most people hear about the program through word of mouth, Atkins said.

“We really don’t have to promote it very much,” Atkins said. “A lot of times on the days that we give out the bicycles, we get a lot of phone calls in because (the recipients) take (the bicycle) back to wherever they live and people talk about it because they got a new bike.”

Atkins coordinates the steps after the bicycles are fixed, so the bike team members rarely meet the people whose lives they’ve touched, Hubbel said. On “bike distribution day,” Atkins said she takes recipients to a room in the church basement where they pick which bicycle they want. A stack of Bibles also waits on a table for those who wish to take one. Above a row of refurbished bicycles — some with worn seats, some with paint faded, but all safe and functioning — hangs a wall of thank you notes from previous recipients.

“There isn’t any one particular (recipient) that stands out to me,” Atkins said. “However, I do remember so many of the recipients are almost giddy to get a bike, realizing the opportunities that it opens up for them.”

Hubbel said serving the community through Bikes and Bibles is a group effort from hardworking, passionate people.

“It’s a group thing,” Hubbel said. “It’s not a case where any one person’s a hero or anything. It’s kind of like having a men’s breakfast or something. You just got a bunch of people that show up and like to work together to accomplish something.”

Drew Hutchinson – Story Behind the Story

By Drew Hutchinson

For my Story Behind the Story assignment, I decided to interview Gaylord News reporter Emma Keith about her breaking news story/in-depth news story on Jim Inhofe’s appointment to chair the Senate Armed Services committee.

Her breaking news story was on the front page of The Oklahoman.

University of Oklahoma senior Emma Keith started out as an OU Daily reporter and news managing editor. She has also had an investigative internship with News 21. She currently works for Gaylord News, a new program that sends OU students to report in Washington D.C. to help Oklahoma get coverage on issues that affect the state.

Keith’s story broke the news that Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe would succeed Sen. John McCain as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Keith later wrote a more in-depth story about the appointment’s significance.

Keith said she and her fellow reporters knew about a week ahead of time that Inhofe would be moving into the Senate Armed Services chair position. She said she wrote the skeleton of the story before the announcement — she had sat down with people on Inhofe’s staff to confirm that Inhofe would get the position. She said she researched the position and its significance for Oklahoma. She called defense experts and political science professors, as well, including Michael Crespin, director of the OU Carl Albert Center.

Keith said she was at the Capitol when Inhofe’s position became official. She and other reporters with Gaylord News went straight to Inhofe’s office and were able to catch him for some brief remarks.

“That allowed us to get something no news outlets back home would have: an immediate response from the senator that I could then work into that (story) skeleton before I sent it off,” Keith said.

As for public response, she said stories about Sen. Inhofe are always polarizing, and many people responded to the story with disgust, especially on Twitter.

“I’m not sure the story was completely unexpected, but I also think a lot of people who are active on Oklahoma social media just aren’t fond of anything Inhofe does,” Keith said.

She said her time at The Daily had trained her to break news quickly. But her editors with Gaylord News are older, retired newspaper reporters, so their editing process was lengthy, while Keith tried to get the story out sooner.

She said the largest challenge of writing the story was figuring out how to write the breaking news first and then a follow-up after. She had to figure out how to split up all the sources she had already interviewed and put them in the respective stories.

She said working in D.C. is worlds different than her time at The Daily. She said working for The Daily meant budgeting out news and deciding for herself what to write about. But with Gaylord News, she always knows what stories and beats she should write about — though she said there’s so much going on that it gets difficult to decide what to write first.

“We’re trying to do work that couldn’t be done from Oklahoma so that we’re most useful to the papers there,” Keith said. “But there’s only three reporters here now and obviously a lot happening everyday in D.C., and it’s been quite a process to force ourselves and our editors to decide what’s important.”

She said she got to her current position in Gaylord News by working for the Daily and doing her internship with News 21. She also said student media experience is essential to work with Gaylord News. She said her experiences at The Daily have taught her leadership skills and the value of (really) hard work — all skills that she would perish without in her current position. She said she encourages anyone who wants to join her program to work for a news outlet.

Keith’s story on Inhofe was on the front page of The Oklahoman. She said she was delighted when she saw this, because it was the first time since moving to D.C. that she’d felt truly useful.

“I know it’s not the most groundbreaking or exciting thing I’ve ever written, but it did feel like a small triumph for this D.C. program, where we’re just starting to figure things out,” Keith said.

Profile: Breea Clark

Breea Clark sat in her Adams Hall office, busily cutting triangles from purple squares of paper. She looked up and smiled.

“I can multitask!” Clark said. “Come on in.”

Clark has been the director of the University of Oklahoma JCPenney Leadership Center since April. The paper triangles were for a crossover event between business and engineering students. The goal of the exercise was for the intermingled students to build a full square out of the triangles without talking. Business and engineering cross paths often, Clark said, so students in these fields must know how to work together

On top of directing the leadership center, Clark is also a city council member and a mother of two. She’s a professional multitasker.

Background

Clark, 35, was born in Wichita, Kansas. She graduated from Wichita State University in 2005 with a degree in political science. When asked why she came to Norman, she said, “Do you want the honest answer?”

Clark had followed a man to Norman — the town where she would become a public figure.

“I was in love with the DJ at a bar,” Clark said. “That’s how I put myself through school — I was a bartender. And he had a child from a previous relationship in Shawnee, and his mother worked at the University of Oklahoma. So, I knew if we were going to have a future, I should really look at Norman, Oklahoma.”

The man Clark followed would become her first husband — her “practice husband.” She is now remarried to her high school sweetheart and has two sons: one from each marriage.

After moving to Norman, Clark said she knew she wanted to attend law school at OU but was initially waitlisted. She called every day until she got in.

“I was the first person off the waitlist, and then I made dean’s honor roll first semester,” Clark said. “So I think they made a good choice.”

Academic integrity and city council

Clark started working for the OU provost’s office in her last year of law school. At this point, the Office of Academic Integrity didn’t exist, and the process for academic integrity cases was complicated.

In 2008, when Clark had graduated and passed the bar exam, she said the job market was oversaturated with lawyers. She didn’t want to work 80-hour weeks when the economy was bad.

“So I kind of pitched like, well, what if we had a full-time person who did nothing but academic integrity?” Clark said. “And they started me off with a 30-hour position a week.”

Clark, who was also practicing family law part time, then wrote a memo comparing OU to other Big 12 schools, most of which had an academic integrity office.

“And the moral of the story is if you want a job at OU, find a way that we’re lacking compared to Oklahoma State,” Clark said.

In 2009, Clark was offered a full-time position working with academic integrity issues, and the Office of Academic Integrity was born.

“I helped to create an office at a big institution,” Clark said. “And not many people can say that.”

Will Spain worked with Clark in the academic integrity office for six years.

“(Clark) made work fun to be at every day,” Spain said.

Working in the academic intergrity office involves hard work like telling students they’re in trouble for academic misconduct, but Clark always had the courage to do so, Spain said.

“She was never one to shy away from telling students we have high expectations,” Spain said.

Students were often angry after getting in trouble for academic misconduct issues, Spain said, but many students returned to visit Clark after they took her required class. Clark became a guide for the rest of many students’ college experience, Spain said.

“I think that speaks a lot about who (Clark) is as a person,” Spain said.

At the end of 2015, Clark’s mentor urged her to run for the Ward 6 seat in Norman City Council. Clark said she felt like she had made enough connections in the community and knew enough about Norman to perform the job well, so she decided to try. Six months of campaigning later, Clark had won the seat.

She didn’t draw an opponent when her first term was over.

“Apparently, I’m doing an OK enough job where no one felt the need to run against me,” Clark said. “And so (I) automatically got a second term, and here we are.”

Norman Mayor Lynne Miller has known Clark since Clark was elected. Miller said Clark is excellent at getting large amounts of work done in a short time, researching relevant issues and managing her busy life.

“I think (Clark) is a really good example for other young women in that she seems to do a good job as a wife and a mother and a professional woman, and then she does this big volunteer job as well, which is what the council is,” Miller said. “She seems to be able to juggle things really well.”

JCPenney Leadership Center

In April 2018, Clark accepted the offer to direct the OU JCPenney Leadership Center.

Clark has called herself an “outsider” to the program because she does not hold a business degree. But her existing relationships within the business college and her passion for community engagement make up for it, she said.

“One thing I just really love about this position is it’s a great intertwining of my commitment to my community and public service and my commitment to leadership and mentoring,” Clark said.

The 25-year-old center helps “high performing” business students network and develop their leadership potential through networking opportunities and events, according to its website.

“It’s a phenomenal group of leaders who have a ridiculous amount of potential,” Clark said. “I get to hang out with these young people . . . so it’s really neat to be able to share my experience and my connections and my network to help them go even further.”

The program focuses less on previous involvement and more on potential, Clark said. She said the time commitment is heavy, and students who are already spread thin may not be accepted.

“I don’t want to say that we’re in an elitist program because we’re not — you know how big I am on diversity,” Clark said. “But out of the 138 applications, we took 50, which is a 36 percent acceptance rate.”

Clark said her vision for the leadership program is to use OU’s diversity to benefit the university and the Norman community.

“I would say my vision is to capitalize on our diversity. Not just to say, ‘this is our diversity,’ but what are we doing with it?”

Q&A: Drew interviews Olan

Drew: So first of all, are any of your family military?

Olan: The last person in my family was my great grandpa, so like three generations removed. But since then, no one really in my direct lineage served in the military in any capacity. I have extended family members, like second uncles who have been in the navy, but no one’s been like explicitly in the army and been deployed. So yeah.

 

Drew: So what led you to your decision to join the army?

Olan: So it wasn’t until my senior year in high school did I realize I was going to go into the army in any capacity. It was mainly after the James Foley incident in August of my senior year whenever he got killed. It was kind of like a calling for me to do something along the lines of public service. By this point already knew I was going to OU. But I wanted to serve those people who I respected, like humanitarian aid workers, similar to journalists. They oftentimes just shine light on the darkness in the world.

 

Drew: So there are parallels for you between journalism and enlisting?

Olan: Yeah. And at the time I never knew I was actually going to be a journalist or even become a journalist major. It was mainly like in terms of, like, how firefighters respect police officers and police officers respect firefighters. It was the same way for me. Someday I’ll probably get deployed to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I’ll look at journalists the same way you would look at somebody who’s a police officer versus a firefighter.

 

Drew: Have you gone through basic training?

Olan: Yes. I enlisted right out of high school. But a year after enlisting, that was whenever I started school at OU. And my ROTC contract is superior to my enlistment contract. So that contract went null and void. I’m now obligated to meet the requirements of Cadet Command to become officer.

 

Drew: Will you have an active duty part of your life?

Olan: Not really, but yes as well. Where you’re working, you’re expected to be able to do something at 24 hours of the day, like anything could pop up at any time and you’re expected to train. Because whenever you’re training with the army, it’s around the clock. But since I’m becoming a reservist, the only time I’d ever go on active duty outside of training would be like, let’s say a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan or the National Guard.

 

Drew: Can you talk a little bit about the time commitment that ROTC takes for kids who are in college?

Olan: Yeah. It’s definitely a time restraint. I would argue that you’ll spend more time doing ROTC than you’ll spend doing anything else combined. It’s a major commitment in the morning, because you have physical training on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. If you don’t meet the minimum score on the physical fitness test, you have to come in for PT on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well. So then it becomes a five day commitment. That runs from 6 – 7 in the morning. But like everything in the army, you’re expected to be there 15 minutes early. So often times you’re there at least by 5:35. And then you have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and you have lab later Thursday afternoon, and those are an hour to an hour and a half.

 

Drew: You’ve said before that you don’t want to be a journalist. Tell me why.

Olan: Um, I enjoy journalism. I respect journalists. It’s the whole reason why I ended up getting into the army. It’s something that fascinates me, something I love, but I would say it’s not something I would be fulfilled and be happy with doing for a lifetime. Whereas that call to public service that I mentioned at the very beginning, it was definitely more along the lines of something I would love doing. There’s something about helping other people that’s satisfying to me. So like, I could never even see myself working in private sector. Even if my aim at a higher federal agency falls through, my fallback is a police officer or firefighter while also serving in the reserves.

 

Drew: So that’s kind of what you would use to satisfy that want to serve the public, even if you don’t get the top position at the CIA?

Olan: Yeah, because like, you know, I’ve been looking at the CIA. I’ve also been looking at the FBI. But yeah, being either a firefighter and potentially even like a police officer. My cousin, he’s a firefighter and it’s literally one of those jobs where like every single day you can think back and name the individual people who you helped. Often times people forget that firefighters, they’re not just putting out flames.