Budget cuts spark student protest

UCO Students gathered around the Old North Clocktower to protest the proposed budget cuts that are set to eliminate multiple faculty positions across campus.

A budget forum on March 24, 2022 about letting go 40+ faculty has caused students to protest and rally for sake of their professors’ jobs.

President Neuhold-Ravikumar has cleared the air about rumors of an exact number of faculty cuts. She said, “I heard students talk about 53 faculty positions being eliminated, the students were not able to provide a data source for this number. So, to reiterate what I said in the open forum, the number that has been shared is 40+ full time faculty positions. There has not been an exact number determined yet.”

Since the forum, students have had multiple protests to combat the tough news.

Logan Boyd, a UCO student, has become a leader for the student protest on campus. He wrote an intermediate release expressing his issues.

Boyd said, “The last thing any of us want to see is the termination of faculty and staff members who have substantially impacted the UCO community. I encourage you to have conversations with your peers regarding this letter and to listen to your department students.”

The UCO community will see definite changes within the upcoming months. Some students have concerns with the amount of faculty set to lose their jobs. They feel it is ironic for Professor Kato Buss, who has dealt with sexual misconduct allegations against him, to continue to remain as professor and chairperson for the Theater Arts Department.

Ann Rhyne, a UCO Theater Arts student, said, “I asked President Patti why Kato Buss was up for promotion but the teachers who actually fight for us are down for demotion. She [President Neuhold-Ravikumar] told me she would prefer a zero tolerance policy involving sexual misconduct.”

Rhyne added, “After reviewing set policy we actually have a zero tolerance policy. I think I know the handbook better than you do.”

After digging through the faculty handbook it is complicated topic to say the least. A portion of the handbook which governs dismissal of tenured faculty does incorporate language regarding moral issues and acts which demonstrate unfitness to be a faculty member. We also reached out to the president’s office spokesperson Adrienne Nobles and she agrees the faculty handbook does not specify a zero tolerance policy.

Some of the leaders of the student protest will meet tomorrow at 9 a.m. with President Neuhol-Ravikumar about the budget cuts and faculty layoff set to occur at the university.

Students are continuing to make their voices heard with another student led protest tomorrow.

Students will be gathering at the Chickasaw plaza at 12 p.m. and they will be ringing a bell for every faculty member that will be cut.

We will keep you updated with this story as we find out more information.

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