Charles Graham, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of Architecture, apologized on Monday for wearing Arabic clothing, a white thawb and red keffiyeh, on his head during a back-to-school meeting on Aug. 20.
A picture of Graham wearing the traditional Middle-Eastern garb was posted (and later deleted) on the College of Architecture's Facebook page.
An anonymous source told The Lost Ogle that while Graham was wearing the clothing he may have had trouble pronouncing attire correctly and asked an Iranian professor if he “had it right.” The professor allegedly told Graham that not all people from the Middle East dress the same.
OU press secretary Corbin Wallace told The Oklahoma Daily that three or four people did notify the OU president's office about the clothing, so Graham emailed an apology to the school's staff.
In his apology, Graham said in part:
I asked a number of my Muslim friends around the campus and in Norman to see if my wearing the attire would be offensive in any religious way, and the answers were all resoundingly “no.” They thought it would be a nice gesture of diversity and acceptance of other cultures, something our university is trying to promote and support universally.
...In the past couple of years we have had over 30 students go through Dubai, either to do architectural and construction studies there, or on their way to Zambia to work on our service learning project in that country. We have all learned about the multi-cultural and diverse nature of the people of Dubai, and their friendliness towards Americans.
Again, I apologize that my Dubai attire offended someone here in the college. As most of you know, I also tried to use the time I wore the attire as an educational exercise, even to the point of giving the names of the various components of the attire.
Graham declined to comment to The Oklahoma Daily.