UCO Students Protesting 40+ Teachers Potentially Being Cut
KOKH-OKC - April 8, 2022 11:38 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Students at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) are protesting after the school announced that more than 40 teaching positions would be cut due to a lack of funding.
Students on Thursday called their teachers essential to their education and they’re asking the administration why they’re letting so many go.
“I pay so much money to be here, pay to park, commute here every day. We don’t even have free printing,” said a student.
It was the second day of fiery language and protest at old north tower on UCO campus, as students fought for their teachers.
“The fact that this is happening and we’re losing educators is absolutely unbearably,” said UCO Junior and protest organizer Logan Boyd.
Boyd, who marched with his high school during the teacher walkout, has been organizing protests and been in contact with the teachers who might be losing their job.
“They have all expressed support for what we’re doing here today,” Boyd said. “Many people have cried over the fact that they might lose their jobs and that is extremely disheartening to me and many others.”
UCO said they are facing an annual deficit of $50 million. The university is looking at potentially cutting more than 40 teacher positions, 18 of which are currently vacant.
The school has cited a 17% drop in enrollment since 2017 and that’s not the only financial hurdle.
“We have had basically flat state funding in the past couple of years, but we also have mandatory cost increasing every year, so things like insurance for our employees that’ll go up in cost every year,” said Adrienne Nobles, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at UCO.
Another issue on the minds of students is the promotion of UCO teacher Kato Buss and a pending lawsuit.
“Since it’s a personnel issue and currently there is a Title 9 lawsuit that has named the university and him, I simply cannot offer public comment on it,” said Nobles.
With all this, UCO recognizes this is a tough time for everyone.
“This is not a situation that anyone wants to be in,” Nobles said. “We recognize the emotional weight of our faculty our students and our staff.”
For now the students will keep fighting for their teachers.
“We want to see our futures secure and a big part of that is supporting our faculty members,” said Maya, UCO Junior.
UCO said they’ll have the final number of teachers cut before the end of April.
The school is also considering raising tuition for full-time students by $81 per semester.
The students said they will be meeting with the president of the school Friday at 9 a.m. to address student concerns and the budget. They will also be holding another protest at noon Friday at the Chickasaw Plaza on campus, where they’ll be ringing a bell for every teaching job that could potentially be lost.