Two students created a petition to improve communication and repair facilities within the acting program.
Harrison Langford and Callie Dewees, acting sophomores, initiated the petition based on discussions within the acting program.
After it was revealed that none of their tuition funds go toward the acting program, Langford and Dewees consulted Caroline Stella, acting junior, who started a similar petition in the past.
They found that Stella’s petition washed away when her room in Methodist Hall flooded.
Dewees and Langford hosted a forum Feb. 24 in the Dulaney-Browne Library. About 14 students attended the forum.
When enough interest was shown, they resolved to create the petition. It was drafted Feb. 27 by Langford, then released March 1 through his father, a lawyer.
The petition’s goal is to identify problems with communication and facilities and to make the university aware of students’ concerns.
“If you’re going to go to a school, you would hope that most of the money that you’re paying goes to things that you’re going there for,” he said. “It’s not like we’re going to demand that our money go different places, but we just want to know. Like, if it’s not going to our program, we should know where it’s going.”
A secondary goal of the petition is to request improvement of many of the malfunctioning facilities used by the acting program, specifically the Clara E. Jones Administration and Gold Star Memorial buildings. The basement of Gold Star was finished about a year past schedule, and it still contains safety hazards, such as nails protruding from the floor.
The petition addresses each space, asking for particular improvements including:
- safer floors in the Goldstar basement,
- soundproofed walls in Gold Star classrooms, and
- new floors in Studio A and the admin tower classroom.
“If our university is unable to fund these things or allow a budgetary discussion, we, as students who pay a considerable amount, should be educated as to why,” the petition reads.
The admin tower in the administration building was never re-floored, despite plans made and a budget presented to university officials. One problem with the room is an uneven tile in the center of its floor that makes many performance exercises problematic.
“I’ve had rehearsals where we had to stop rehearsal for 20 minutes and deal with the fact that there was a wasp in our rehearsal space,” Dewees said. “I worry practically every time I’m in movement class that I’m gonna, I don’t know, cut my foot on the funky tile in the middle of the admin tower.”
Withholding information from acting students causes negativity and frustration within the program, said Daniel Etti-Williams, acting sophomore.
“This is all speculation, and this is what causes dissent and frustration,” he said. “It’s not having that clarity and that transparency. Because if we had that, we would know exactly where our tuition’s going.”
The petition has 162 signatures so far. Langford and Dewees intend to speak with Dean Mark Parker and Provost Kent Buchanan after reaching 200 signatures.
A physical signature is not required. Students can contribute a digital signature via change.org/p/school-of-theatre-petition-for-facilities-and-tuition-transparency. There is no major requirement to sign the petition.