Theater students attend UCOSA to support anti-Buss resolution

Titus Leong

Contributing Writer

UCO Theatre Arts students show support. (TITUS LEONG/THE VISTA)

Students from the UCO Theatre Arts Department came out in support for legislation CR24-201 on Feb. 12 and Feb. 19, standing in solidarity with alleged victims of Professor Kato Buss’ alleged sexual harassment.  

There were 25 students present on Feb. 12 when the legislation was first introduced and submitted to the Academic Affairs Committee, and 19 students sat in for the fourth meeting on Feb. 19, when UCOSA voted on the legislation.

“During my time in this university and UCOSA, I’ve never seen so many students come out and support a piece of legislation,” said Chair of Congress Izzy Barry.

Several students from the Theatre Arts Department who sat in the meetings commented on the importance of the legislation for the entire department and the greater UCO community.

“I can speak to my own experience and of many others that there was an air around that this was not a safe place to be,” said Cole Shoemaker, who was a freshman in 2021 when this was an ongoing issue. He remembered a number of people who did not attend UCO due to the bad press the university received following the six Title IX complaints filed against Buss in May 2021, and how unsafe his class felt because Buss was there.

Buss currently teaches classes online, most of which are freshman and introduction classes, such as Beginning Acting and Introduction to Theatre. 

“Incoming freshmen may not know about his situation going into the program. even if they are theater majors,” said Bailey Carpenter. “The senior class right now were freshmen when this happened. We’re worried that this would get swept under the rug.” 

“This affects students with him still being able to teach classes online due to the fact a lot of students enrolling to his online courses are non-majors, so they are unaware of his situation at all,” said Rainey Denison. “He also offers office hours and that is an unsafe scenario given the circumstances around this situation.”

CR24-201 was passed by UCOSA Congress with a unanimous vote, the results of which will be distributed to the offices of President Todd Lamb and Charleen Weidell, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Design.

“It doesn’t only affect our safety but also our education because he’s still hired on as faculty,” Carpenter said. “It affects the professors that we now have and they have to take on jobs that they shouldn’t have to, which affects our classes. Some of our classes aren’t taught effectively or some don’t even happen.”

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