Faculty monitor fine arts students

Following outcry from fine arts students over Missouri Southern’s newly enforced access policy, the school may have a solution that will allow the fine arts students to work late while ensuring their safety.

For right now, faculty members have been monitoring music, theatre and art students for four-hour time slots from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and also on the weekends.

In the March 9 Faculty Senate meeting, Vice President of Academic Affairs AJ Anglin said the school is looking into hiring work study students as student monitors, and they will be trained for how to best watch over students.

In the past month, students have spoken out against the school’s access policy, which only allows for student access to buildings after 10 p.m. under supervision. This made completion of assignments more difficult for some art and theatre students, who said they need to work inside University buildings late into the night.

Anglin told the Senate that although students have been safer since the policy began affecting students, cutting off access after 10 p.m. has not been the best solution.

“[Since the policy was enforced,] we’ve all recognized that the students are not being served,” Anglin said.

He added that the school is attempting to give “appropriate supervision” in terms of student safety.

“That’s the whole issue. We’ve got a lot of different viewpoints of what that means, but that’s what it’s been about,” Anglin said.

Dr. Jim Lile, associate theatre professor, hopes student monitors can be found sooner rather than later.

“I already know that there are several applications that have been made; they’re on their way over to me from student employment,” Lile said Wednesday.

The student employees will monitor access to the buildings at one door. After 10 p.m., there will only be one door unlocked. The student will sign people in and out of the building. They are also the contact person for the Department of Public Safety.

“From a security standpoint, it lets us know who is here, when they’ve come in and when they come out,”  Lile said.

Dr. Cheryl Cifelli, faculty senate president, mentioned in the Senate meeting that the departments would prefer not to have fine arts students as monitors.

“If it were one of our students, they would be more likely to want to practice or do their own thing rather than sit there and monitor the door,” Cifelli said.

Student response

Some theatre students said they do not feel as though having student work studies will be a fair compromise. Several times, students referred to the student monitors as “babysitters.”

“Having a student check in is kind of solving the problem, except that it’s not because some of us still work [elsewhere] overnights and can’t get here until six in the morning or five,” said Melissa Jean Mullen, senior theatre major.

“What’s the difference in having us here with our building passes as students and having just a student monitor?” said Kyle Anthony Grover, junior theatre major.

The students feel as though they’re being treated like children when they’re expected to do adult work.

“Students are in charge of these rehearsals, faculty are not,” Mullen said. “That’s what we’re learning to do, we’re learning how to be professionals. How can they expect us to be professionals when we’re being babysat?”

Amber Julian, junior theatre major, said paying a student to monitor other students is a waste of money, money that could be spent to save programs at Southern going under review.

“Having a work study program, with having a monitor sit down and monitor it, is kind of pushing back the financial aspect, don’t you think? Because they’re instead using money to pay these students, the money that they’re cutting from our programs,” Julian said.

The students agreed they would rather have periodic checks from DPS and to check into and out of buildings with their student identification cards.

Comments from Bruce Speck

University President Bruce Speck said he was surprised by the student outcry.

“I understand their [students’] position,” Speck said. “The safety issue is incredibly important.”

He said he did not personally speak with any students about the issue, but did receive several “articulate”  emails.

“No, I have got some emails on those, and what I did in most cases was send them on to AJ because that was his area, and I think he was caught by surprise too,” Speck said.

Speck said Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Darren Fullerton was in charge of the committee that looked at student access last summer.

“We were told about this possible change and asked to give a proposal for it,” Speck said. “So when you have folks over there saying they didn’t know anything about it, there are some major communication problems, and they didn’t come from Darren because he talked to them.

“The students have been disadvantaged because there has not been attention paid to this by people at certain levels,” he said. “We have to think very clearly about student safety.”