By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On Thursday, September 3, University of Oklahoma students will gather on the OU North Oval in front of Evans Hall from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. for the “OUr Safety Protest.” The event will be held to raise awareness about the “inadequate preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic by university administration.”
Students will protest the administration’s inaction and demand change, stated the press release.
“The University of Oklahoma administration has failed to protect its students from the deadly pandemic, COVID-19,” said Field Parsons, one of the event organizers.
“They have not been fully transparent with the student body, prioritized profit over safety, and have done little to curtail students’ reckless and dangerous behavior.
“This has not changed despite the White House Task Force having Oklahoma in the red zone (indicating the highest risk of infection) and noting that university towns in particular have increasing infection rates,” Parsons added “We do not feel safe on campus.”
Tomorrow, Thursday September 3, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. students will gather on the North Oval in front of Evans Hall to protest the administration’s inaction and demand change. This event has been planned by students and will feature student speakers.
Field Parsons, an OU aviation senior and one of the event’s organizers, told the OU Daily reporter Zaria Oates that 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, according to Oates’ report.
The student’s demands:
- Immediately transition the vast majority of classes online, except for experience- and equipment-reliant courses that cannot be conducted remotely
- Twice-weekly testing for all members on campus of the OU community provided by the university
- Chop from The Top: Progressive, tiered furlough structure to address budget shortfalls
● No furloughs or layoffs of part time, temporary, or contract employees, or employees earning less than $49,100/year (living wage in OKC metro for working adult with 1 dependent. Source:
● No furloughs or layoffs of part-time, temporary, or contract employees, or employees earning less than $49,100/year – living wage in Oklahoma City metro for working adult with 1 dependent.
● Use Endowment to pay salaries
● Move 12-month administrators to 9-month contracts where feasible
● Salary reductions to any employees (including OU Athletics employees) earning more than $329,085 before others are furloughed, following this tiered structure: 1st furloughed group: $329,085 / 2nd furloughed group: $200,000 3rd furloughed group $100,000 / 4th furloughed group: $75,000 / 5th furloughed group: $49,000.
● Offer free tuition and fees to any furloughed employees and their families
- Protection for international students to ensure their security when classes are moved online. This includes a one-hour, outdoor, in-person class that meets social-distancing requirements
- Students with disabilities receive proper accommodation. “Disabilities” include those in the high-risk category for COVID-19 according to the CDC
- On-campus housing protection for OU community members who may not have other reasonable housing near Norman, and prorated refunds for those who elect to move out
- Hold organizations accountable who promote or engage in the violation of COVID- related mandates, such as having an open tab at a bar, allowing members to congregate without masks or without social distancing, or hosting parties
- Make it a violation of OU’s protocol to hold gatherings of over 25 people
- Time-and-a-half hazard pay for essential on-campus workers (including student workers).
- Rehire or waive Tuition & Fees for student workers laid off in the Spring/Summer 2020 or not rehired for Fall 2020.
- Total transparency from the administration on financial decisions, especially those regarding semester/year changes due to COVID-19.
- For students who continue to live on campus, lower the cost of on-campus living and provide a bursar refund of the difference in cost to those who have prepaid for housing.
On August 10 several members of OU’s staff attended a “Save Our Staff” rally on the OU campus to protest the university’s decision to resume in-person classes.
During the demonstration, staff member Mauve Kay told reporter Jennifer Crittenden of The Norman Transcript, “If you ask many in the OU community, we are not ready to reopen,” Kay said. “The risks are far too great.”
Masks are required at the Our Safety Protest and social distancing will be observed during the event.
Students who cannot attend are asked to sign the OUr Safety Petition to Protect the OU Community.
“It was discouraging to see the administration prioritize short-term financial success over the long-term health and safety of the OU family,” Parsons told OU Daily. “We felt that we had to stand up and do something or feel helpless as the administrators did what they wanted without any remorse.”