Students revolt against new policy

The implementation of a new access policy that prohibits students from working in buildings unsupervised after hours and on weekends continues to draw their ire.

Around 15 students attended an emergency meeting of the Southern Players on Wednesday evening to discuss the policy and possible solutions.

“Right now because of this access policy we are not bettering ourselves for the future,” said senior theatre major Ashley Trotnic. “We can’t put into effect any of the things we’re supposed to use to grow as actors and technicians. We can’t do it with the access policy the way it is now, we don’t have the time and the space. It’s pointless to have class if we can’t use what we need to use.”

Darren Fullerton, interim vice president for student affairs, told The Chart last week that the policy was a result of a facility access committee chaired by Dr. Tia Straight, dean of technology, which met last summer and also included Ken Kennedy, chief of campus police and Dr. Richard Miller, dean of arts and sciences.

Fullerton said the committee recommended supervision for students after the normal work day and locking facilities so the University isn’t put at risk by unsupervised students.

The policy requires students working in buildings after 10 p.m. and on weekends to have supervision from a faculty or staff member.

University President Bruce Speck said Southern has a liability if students are in buildings without supervision and that the safety of students is very important to him.

“You can imagine a student over there has an accident and dies, the question is what did the University do to make sure there’s protection for the student and if we say nothing, then essentially we have shown we are not being responsible in making sure students are safe,” he said.

But students say unsupervised access to buildings is sometimes necessary.

Trotnic said rehearsal space is at a premium and there are several events that require it.

Matthew Campbell, a senior theatre major, said theatre students aren’t traditional students.

“We are students who have to constantly work on our craft and constantly train it and experiment and try new things,” he said.

Campbell said much of the work can only be done on campus, such as lighting projects and making costumes. Students can’t take home sewing machines, he said.

He said the access policy has become a hindrance to the curriculum.

“Do we want to hang out here all the time? No. Is it a necessity? Yes.” He said. “This is where we have to create things, just like the music kids and just like the art kids.”

Campbell, Trotnic and other students plan to voice their concerns with Speck, as soon as today.

“As paying students to this University we deserve to talk to our president if we have concerns about our education not being met the way we feel it should,” Trotnic said.

Campbell said if Speck doesn’t answer their questions, they’ll find somebody on campus who will.

“We’re going to address Dr. Speck personally,” he said. “Will he talk to us? Probably not, so we’ll call Rod Surber to ask him to talk to Dr. Speck since that seems to be the hierarchy around here, though I’m not sure why. Then when Rod Surber probably doesn’t return our phone calls we’ll go ahead and call Ken Kennedy and let him hopefully get us some answers.”