Students protests continue


Luke Taylor / The Chart

Todd Manley, senior undecided major, protests Missouri Southern’s nondiscrimination policy with a group of students, alumni and community supporters on March 4.

Hearnes Hall and the area outside University President Bruce Speck’s office was the site of another protest urging Missouri Southern to update it’s non-discrimination policy March 4.

Around 60 people, including students and several faculty members, gathered at 12:15 p.m. and demanded the University include sexual orientation in the policy.

“I’m willing to get beat up for this cause,” said senior theatre major Melissa Mullen. “I will starve for this.”

Speakers included junior theatre major Ashley Trotnic, sophomore biochemistry major Ruth Eichinger and Ivy Love, a senior Spanish and French major. They said eight of 13 public universities in Missouri already include sexual orientation language, as well as several other nearby schools, including the University of Arkansas, Pittsburg State University and Crowder College.

Holly McSpadden, an associate professor of English and philosophy, said it was important for Southern to protect and respect all students, as well as operate as a University in the 21st century.

“I’m impressed by the turnout and I’m impressed by the students,” McSpadden said. “These are thoughtful students, I’ve had many of them in class. These are people who are committed to making the world a better place and I have great respect for them.”

 Three students from Pittsburg State University were among those in attendance. Laren Curry, the president of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance; Andrew Boyd, the vice president, and GSA member Gregory Campbell all made the commute to offer support for the protest.

“We had requests from our friends of ours over here and also we’ve been paying attention because we’re trying to get active on our campus,” Boyd said. “We’re trying to get a community with Joplin’s group and our group together. We feel like if we’re protected at our university our friends should be protected. That’s the big reason.”

Curry said PSU’s sexual orientation language offered protection to students, even though some are unaware of the policy.

“As soon as something at our school does take place that affects the clause that’s in the policy and some official gets wind of it, it’s handled like that,” Curry said.

Boyd said his group had not encountered any major problems at PSU.

“Our administration at Pitt State is very accepting,” he said.

He also wouldn’t encourage students to transfer from Southern to PSU if the University’s policy is not amended.

“They’re more than welcome to come to our meetings,” he said. “They’re more than welcome to come to our university and just hang out with us. We’re open to community members and anybody who wants to come to our meetings.”

Campbell said leaving Southern would admit defeat.

“I would encourage them to stay because leaving is giving up and they should just keep fighting and fighting until there is a change,” he said. “We can support them in any way, but I would definitely encourage them to not leave the University.”

McSpadden said she appreciated students from Pittsburg attending the rally.

“Pitt State is in such greater shape than we are, a much more progressive university and I want to beat Pitt State,” she said. “Beat Pitt State. I’ve got a T-shirt, but in this instance Pitt State and its leadership have clearly shown us where we’re lacking.”