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'Why not me?': OSU student petitions for shot at vacant university president job

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Ryne G

Oklahoma State student Ryne Garrison was hanging with his buddies when he heard the news.

“Burns Hargis retires after 13 years at OSU,” the headlines read.

Garrison’s friends joked that he should try to replace Hargis as OSU’s president. In Garrison’s mind, however, this wasn’t a joke.

“I was just joking around with some buddies and I said ‘hey, I’ll do it, why not me?' I started thinking a little bit more about it and then I was like ‘you know what would be even funnier than telling my friends about it? Starting a petition to actually get an interview,'" Garrison said. "Then it actually turned into a serious thing. It turned into something I never expected.”

Garrison then started an online petition titled “Let Ryne Garrison interview for President of OSU,” which now has 145 signatures. He started it to show that he could lead his favorite university and to let OSU prove that it cares about the voices of its students.

This opportunity particularly appealed to him because of his own Cowboy roots.

“Ryne was born and raised to be an OSU Cowboy,” said Carl Garrison, Ryne’s father. “Even as a baby, the last song of the night was always the Alma Mater hymn. He has proven leadership abilities and I have no doubt he could handle an opportunity of this magnitude. Ryne Holds all of the values and skills to take OSU far into the future. Maybe even the next 50 years.”

As for Garrison’s qualifications, he’s had a fulfilling career at OSU. He was named a class of 2022 top 10 freshman man, serves in various clubs and has been a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity for years. 

While he understands the chances of him receiving a job offer are slim, he still aims to use this as a means to advocate for student voices.

“I’m realizing now that it can be a platform just to say ‘hey listen we’re not alumni yet, we’re not in that place of significance that some of the other alumni that are making these other decision are in, but the current student body should have a say and maybe even have an inside look at the process to decide who’s going to lead us,” Garrison said.

OSU has four student representatives on the presidential search committee.

Some members of the committee, including Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce, are impressed with Garrison’s courage as a student wanting to lead the school.

“I think that’s an interesting idea,” Joyce said. “We’ve had a student mayor here in Stillwater. So I suppose you could consider a student for that petition. It definitely would be really tough to (be OSU’s president) and also pursue your studies… I’m excited about folks who, at that point in their life are looking for ways to get involved more and make a difference. So I’m interested to see where that would turn out for him.”