A group of students is organizing the “OUr Safety Protest” to move in-person courses online where possible, among other demands related to OU’s COVID-19 reopening plan.
The protest will be held in front of Evans Hall at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Masks will be required, and signs will be staked into the ground six feet apart from each other to ensure proper social distancing.
Field Parsons, an OU aviation senior and one of the event’s organizers, said he encourages students, faculty and anyone else in the OU community who deem their safety at risk to join the protest.
Speakers during the protest will include OU international business and letters sophomore Kathryn Powers, OU journalism and psychology freshman Doran Walters, OU chemical bioscience junior Mose Norman, OU professional writing senior Nia Ramsey and OU English and history senior Getty Hesse.
The group is requesting a list of demands be met by the university. Some of the demands include a transition of in-person classes to online where viable, twice-weekly COVID-19 testing for anyone on campus, a tiered furlough structure and proper ADRC and ADA accommodations for disabilities. A complete list of the demands can be found on the group's Instagram page.
The demands listed by the group are similar to those asked by faculty this summer. On July 30, OU community members protested in-person classes with a “Die-In” and demanded more respect from the OU administration. On Aug. 10, faculty and staff held signs outside of Evans Hall during their “Save Our Staff” protest.
“It was discouraging to see the administration prioritize short-term financial success over the long-term health and safety of the OU family,” said Parsons. “We felt that we had to stand up and do something or feel helpless as the administrators did what they wanted without any remorse.”
The organizers of the protest reached out to organizations across campus to ensure all opinions are heard, Parsons said. He expects attendance for the protest to be about 50 students. The link to the “OUr Safety Protest” petition, which currently has about 100 signatures, can be found here.
The Daily reached out to OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith for comment and is awaiting a response.