UCOSA presents Buss, DEI, and Narcan bills to Lamb

Lamb declined to comment on the legislation presented to him according to the UCOSA executive team. (ETHAN BROWN/THE VISTA)

Both the Faculty Senate and the UCO Student Association (UCOSA) have faced challenges with communication from UCO administration with issues focusing on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Executive Order 2023-31, accessibility to Narcan on campus and the controversial employment of interim assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts and Design Kato Buss.

In March, UCOSA unanimously voted in favor of legislation which calls upon Lamb and UCO to “make a public statement in support of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

With legislation being authored in both Faculty Senate and UCOSA in support of DEI, many in both organizations feel administration has not done enough to communicate with the university.

UCOSA’s DEI legislation was to be distributed to President Lamb, members of his cabinet, the President of Faculty Senate Alyssa Provencio and the President of Staff Senate Ellen Schmidt.

This legislation and two others authored by UCOSA were presented to President Lamb on Friday, April 12 during a monthly meeting with the entire UCOSA executive team. This team is made up of President Lauren Harmen, Vice President Sa’Veion Adams, Chair of Congress Izzi Barry, Vice Chair Cooper Autry and Secretary Ethan Noble.

During this meeting Lamb refused to comment on the legislation, according to the UCOSA executive team.

President Lamb has also been presented with legislation regarding DEI from Faculty Senate which he has 30 days to respond to. He was presented with the legislation on Tuesday, April 9.

Back in January, the President of Faculty Senate, Alyssa Provencio, released a president’s report highlighting why she feels DEI initiatives are important.

In the report she said, “DEI initiatives play a pivotal role in ensuring that all members of our academic community, regardless of their background, have the support and resources they need to thrive.”

When also discussing why DEI is important, Chair of Congress Izzi Barry said, “DEI initiatives are crucial to every facet of student life, in the sense that they are beneficial to all members of our campus community.”

“Administration should reiterate support for DEI as these pillars may continue to be under fire from future legislative action, moreover security for faculty and answers for students regarding the implications of the EO,” said Barry.

While the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and UCOSA have all been working closely on legislation regarding DEI, UCOSA has also passed legislation regarding the employment of interim assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts and Design Kato Buss.

Authored by Senator Ian Wehrenberg and co-authored by DEI Chair Rylan Bolt, the legislation seeks to recommend to, “indefinitely to ensure that no courses are being taught by Kato Buss due to safety concerns for students and for the University to reevaluate any attempt to promote or tenure Kato Buss.”

Buss is the interim dean of the College of Fine Arts and Design at UCO, and in May of 2021 he faced allegations of sexual harassment from six students. This came after an international student claimed that UCO administrators failed to take action after she was sexually assaulted in March of 2020.

The case has since been dropped.

Both UCOSA and Faculty Senate have also passed legislation regarding Narcan accessibility on campus. UCOSA having passed theirs on Monday.

When presented with the legislations regarding Narcan, DEI and Buss, President Lamb did not comment, nor did he lay out a plan with the executive team of UCOSA, according to Barry. 

“President Lamb’s lack of comment on legislation not only by UCOSA, but also Faculty and Staff Senates is concerning because it demonstrates an unwillingness to engage in dialogue regarding key issues that impact our campus life,” said Barry.

“Whenever that legislation was passed, it was the voice of the students,” said Barry.

She would then go on to discuss how even a comment on how context to help UCOSA gain an understanding of what is going on in administration would have been appreciated.

“I think that that is more beneficial for us than not having a comment at all,” said Barry.

This, combined with a lack of new information given to faculty and staff regarding Stitt’s EO, has left many feeling in the dark about what the future of UCO entails.

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