Music majors speak out about program cuts

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at 5:51 PM
Music majors speak out about program cuts by Hannah McDonald
Graphic: Shelby Kirk

“Edinboro is the music, the organizations, the people and the staff who come together to create the perfect environment for me,” reads a quote by Que W., painted on the wall of the new Baron-Forness Library Learning Commons. Yet, this quote may not reign as true beginning in the Fall of 2018.

On Oct. 27, 253 students at Edinboro University received letters saying their majors would no longer be accepting new students. Of those, 110 were students of the college of arts, humanities and social sciences. Of those, 39 students are either majoring in music or music education. 

Many of those music students do not agree with the university’s choice or how administration decided to handle the situation.

"I was caught by surprise. I would have thought it would be more sincere, maybe more personable,” student Victoria Scott said upon receiving the letter. “To me, it hit like a slap in the face. It angered me and it saddened me.”

Not only are students upset, they want the university to know it. Following the deliverance of letters, a group of students thought of a way to make their grievances known.

“Our main goal was to show our discontent with the situations the administration created,” Ashley Matse, a music education major, said.

“We tossed around the idea of a petition because we wanted to show President Walker how much support there is for the music programs at Edinboro University,” Jillian Melchitzky, a sophomore in the same program as Matse, said. 

Melchitzky, along with Scott and Matse, helped Edinboro student Dylan Hollingsworth create a petition on Change.org, titled “Support Edinboro University’s Music & Theatre Department while it’s still here.” The petition took off rapidly once it was published. Primarily through sharing on Facebook, it quickly racked up thousands of signatures from students, community members and others.

“We’re hoping our petition shows the importance of music and also the support our program has,” Matse continued. 

For Hollingsworth, the one whose name and account were used to create the petition, not only does the cutting of music education incite a passionate response — as it clearly has for students affected — it also brings up questions. 

“For many students, including myself, Edinboro University was the only option I had if I wanted to go to school for music due to tuition costs and location. Cutting the music majors could mean possibly denying someone of [a] dream career they may have,” Hollingsworth said. “Yes, we were told they are keeping the minors and ensembles, but who are they going to have teach them in the future if they aren’t making music educators?”

The anger, frustration and disheartened feelings shared by students does not stem solely from the cutting of the majors. The feelings also stem from how the university and administration handled the situation. 

“The choice by President Walker to not hear any solutions or suggestions by our faculty seems completely biased,” Hollingsworth said. 

He continued: “If any information I provided is wrong, then maybe he should communicate better with his students. Aside from the unprofessionalism and lack of communication, [President] Walker needs to realize that this decision is going to affect more than the extremely dedicated students in the music and theatre department.”

“The university handled this very poorly,” Scott said, agreeing. She continued, referring to an article she had recently read on a similar topic in Time Magazine. The article was about a music department getting cut at the University of Alaska. Within it, there was a quote from the provost at Indiana State, Jack Maynard, which Scott repeated.

“The key to avoiding problems is transparency and communication.” 

“The problem with Edinboro is that there was no communication. We were left in the dark for far too long,” Scott said.

 “We want transparency and we feel [President Walker] is taking the easy way out by not discussing the decisions with us,” Melchitzky said. “We were kept in the dark for so long and now we are speaking out against the administration.”

Scott continued: “I hope our administration will see what we are doing. I want them to understand why we are doing this. Music is so important in the arts. It is important to us.” 

“I have no set amount to the number of signatures I want. Every time we hit a milestone amount of signatures, a notification is sent to Dr. Walker’s school email, so I just want as many as I can get,” Hollingsworth said. 

He continued: “Music is a universal language that touches the hearts and souls of millions, regardless of whether or not they play an instrument. We may not be able to change his mind, but we will not be silent. Edinboro musicians and music lovers alike will continue to always make noise.”

Hannah McDonald can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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