Students express concern over access policy

Devon Doyle, junior studio art major, and Austin Still, bachelor of fine arts, aid in setting up an art exhibit in the Spiva Art Gallery on Wednesday.

Nathan Carter / The Chart

Devon Doyle, junior studio art major, and Austin Still, bachelor of fine arts, aid in setting up an art exhibit in the Spiva Art Gallery on Wednesday.

More than 80 individuals have joined a group on the popular social networking website Facebook urging University officials to lift a new policy limiting access to campus buildings.

The “Students for 24/7 Access to Campus Facilities” group, which was formed by Devon Doyle, is seeking to expand access to Missouri Southern buildings to nights and weekends for students. University policy only allows access after 10 p.m. and on weekends if students are supervised by a student or faculty member.

Doyle, a junior studio art major, said she has spent many hours working in the art department and is concerned that students enrolled in intensive art courses will face difficulty getting in the required time.

“There are students who have jobs so in the evenings they’re obviously busy and having the school open 24 hours made it easy for people to get all their work done and my concern with it is that if the policy changes in such a drastic way, people won’t be able to get work done for certain studio courses because some of them are pretty demanding,” Doyle told The Chart.

“I feel that if students don’t have time to do the best work they can then its either going to compromise the student success or teachers will have to make their curriculum easier which still think compromises the students’ education,” she said.

Darren Fullerton, interim vice president for student affairs, said the policy was a result of a facility access committee chaired by Dr. Tia Strait, 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 concerns were brought up during the last academic year about late-night building access and students being unsupervised.

“One of the recommendations that came out of that committee was to make sure that any time after the normal work day that we either had supervision or that the facilities were locked down at an appropriate time so we weren’t putting the University at risk by putting students in there unsupervised,” Fullerton said.

Doyle said she heard about the policy through word of mouth.

“That kind of bothered me,” she said. “We received no warning that the policy was going to change.”

Doyle said previous to this semester students were given authorization to come into the fine arts building by signing a contract in the art department that included rules for conduct within the building. Students who signed the contract received a blue card and anyone who needed access to the building after hours could call campus police, show the blue card and be let in to whatever studio the student was working in, she said.

University President Bruce Speck said his main concern was the issue of safety.

“That’s why we started this, because I began realizing that students are there and there’s no supervision,” he said. “If you have an accident or if there was some harm done to someone then we wouldn’t have any protection legally.”

The Facebook group has drafted a letter to be sent to Speck.