CATEGORY: Marshall County
Rust students worried about security hold sit-in
By Michaela Gibson Morris
HOLLY SPRINGS - Students concerned about campus security and other issues held a sit-in at Rust College on Monday.
About 320 students attended the demonstration held at the campus administration building to plea for additional security, the restoration of three part-time teaching positions and four classes, more cafeteria service and transportation help to investigate graduate schools, said Student Government Association President Lorenzo Esters.
About 825 students are enrolled at the Holly Springs college.
"It was peaceful and orderly," said Ishmell Edwards, Rust College vice president. Even though students returned to classes Monday afternoon, the peaceful demonstration continued to 5 p.m.
Security was a key concern for the students. Since the beginning of the school year, three students have been attacked by people not associated with the college.
The most recent attack occurred last week and helped to spark Monday's protest, Esters said.
"Students do not feel safe on campus," he said.
The school recently hired a new security officer and is slated to hire another to bring its force up to a total of seven people, Edwards said.
Students would like to see three officers on all shifts; the college has said it can do that with the new hires, Esters said.
Administrators said they felt they had addressed students concerns at a Monday morning meeting with College President David Beckley and his cabinet.
"We've being discussing (the student's concerns) for several weeks," Edwards said.
Administrators agreed to add another cafeteria line during the busy lunch hour staffed by student workers and provide some assistance for students to travel to graduate schools for interviews and informational fairs.
Almost all of the students concerns were already in the process of being addressed by the college administration, Edwards said.
Esters said he felt like students had made some progress getting students demands addressed by school administrators, but that there was more to be done.
"The students are anxious to continue the demonstrations," Esters said. "They do not feel like they have made any progress. I have to represent student concerns."
Students also are concerned that three part-time teaching positions were eliminated, reducing or eliminating offerings for four courses for the fall semester.
Sections of Spanish and principles of accounting classes were canceled and students had to reschedule for other classes in those subjects, if there was room in the other classes and they could change the rest of their schedules to accommodate the time changes.
Spanish, in particular, is in especially high demand, Esters said.
Advanced writing and world literature classes were canceled and rescheduled for next semester.
Not enough people enrolled in the canceled classes during preregistration last spring, Edwards said. The college uses preregistration to gauge staffing needs.
Students feel that the classes, which are required for some majors, should be available regardless, Esters said.
"It's like they're punishing students because of decreasing enrollment," Esters said.
Edwards said division chairs will be evaluating shortages in accounting, Spanish and other areas as well as November preregistration to determine staffing levels for the spring semester.
Students also would like to see the college offer more research courses.