Thursday, December 10, 2009

holiday wake for the music and art programs

We attended a wake today, held by the students in the art and music departments, for their own programs. It was a heartbreaking, powerful, symbolic protest, that the soulless and gutless administrators callously ignored even though it was happening right in front of them.

There's a holiday tradition on our campus of the university's tremendously accomplished choir singing carols in various buildings. This year, they decided to alter this tradition in protest. This year they suffered a $209,000 cut, and next year they stand to suffer another $205,000 cut in their funding. As a result, the program could stand to lose 2/3 of their students.

So they held a holiday wake for themselves. They sang dirges along with carols, and in the end, they sang "Joy to the World" in four-part harmony, in their building-filling voices, while they one-by-one covered their mouths with black gags and silenced themselves. They put themselves, symbolically, to death, in the building occupied by the administration that has spent more than $500,000 on new administrative positions just this year, instead of funding their programs, and blamed the state's economy for it. They mourned their tremendously successful program on the same day the university administration announced the arrival of a new associate vice president for human resources, and candidate visits for a the third dean of business in the last calendar year, and for the new provost. Easily, far more has been spent on replacing administrators - during a period of "hiring freeze" - than it would take to continue this vibrant, creative program going strong.

Lauren was crying throughout their concert. I was fighting tears, mainly successfully, because for me anger trumps despair.

All I could do today was bear witness. What a stupid, vicious, corrupt waste! What a terrible abuse of power! Imagine - choosing to sacrifice music and art for that!

(I was going to write something analytical about the obvious indication of budget priorities is presented by the constant hiring of high-level administrators during a hiring freeze, but my heart's broken. Can't do it.)

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