Administrators are addressing a student petition regarding the quality of theater facilities and officials’ transparency about the theater budget.
The petition’s creators originally asked for 200 signatures before the petition would be presented to the theater school’s deans for consideration. Since then, 169 students, alumni and students’ relatives signed the petition. The petition was given to Brian Parsons, associate dean of the school of theater, who delivered it to university administrators.
“Improvement work is progressing as previously planned,” Parsons said.
He refused to comment further.
Callie Dewees, acting sophomore and proponent of the petition, said theater faculty confirmed that they are working on renovations beginning this summer.
“I think it’s good that we’ve come to a point where we don’t need a petition anymore,” Dewees said.
She said the theater faculty members are just as concerned about these issues as students.
The petition addressed concerns such as safer floors in the basement of the Gold Star Memorial Building, soundproofed walls and new floors in Studio A and in the Clara E. Jones Administration Building.
It also addressed issues of transparency, demanding university officials present a budget to students who are concerned about where their money is going.
“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.
Some students voiced concerns about the floors in the admin tower and Studio A, claiming they are unsafe and result in injuries.
“I have gotten hurt due to the terrible conditions of the flooring in the admin tower and Studio A,” Adrienne Pierce, acting sophomore, wrote in a comment on the online petition.
“I do not want to be in fear of getting hurt while trying to learn. We cannot wear shoes in most of the classes that we have in these spaces, increasing the risk to injure.”
Other problems have arisen since the writing of the petition, like heating issues in the basement of Gold Star.
“It is so cold we physically cannot have class there,” said Onnika Hanson, acting sophomore.
Hanson said her class was moved to a room smaller than a general education classroom, which made the acting lesson difficult.
“Even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal, it does prevent us from having class,” Dewees said. “That’s something I would expect them to get done. There’s no excuse for not doing it.”
Lance Marsh, professor of theater, said administrators are following through with revisions.
“Students have conducted a respectful process of calling attention to the state of the spaces that the theater school trains into the upper administration,” Marsh said.
These renovations include soundproofing the rooms in Gold Star.
“Parsons and Lance have both confirmed that the people in charge of that are actively working on fixing what problems they can,” Dewees said.
Gregory DeCandia, assistant professor of theater; Dr. Mark Parker, dean of Bass School of Music, and Jeffrey Cochran, assistant professor of acting, refused to comment.
Dewees said she trusts the theater faculty to make the changes mentioned in the petition.
“I definitely trust Lance especially,” Dewees said. “And I know Dean Parsons has personally spoken to Dean Parker and the provost, and they do want this as bad as we do.”
Mark Clouse, director of facilities, was unavailable for comment at presstime.
Provost Kent Buchanan said he is in communication with Parsons, but refused to comment further.
Dewees said she considers the petition successful.
“I really appreciate how much they’ve worked with us,” Dewees said.
Dewees said Parsons told her university officials will focus on transparency during the next year.
“I’m really proud of all of the support we got and the fact that we put our minds to something and something is actually being done about it,” Dewees said.
“We, as people, tend to get frustrated and complain to each other, but I think that this is a really good example of what can happen when you voice concerns in a productive way and when they’re listened to.”