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UArts students react to closure
UArts students react to closure
Courtesy of Stevie Reynolds
Life > Academics

Heartbreak & Logistical Nightmares: 7 Students On How They’re Handling UArts’ Closure

Summer is a time for relaxation, but students from the University of the Arts are experiencing anything but, as they’re dealing with frustration and anxiety in droves following the shocking notice that their university will be closing, much to their surprise and confusion.

On May 31, Philadelphia’s UArts suddenly announced its closure, effective only one week later, on June 7. The abrupt nature of the announcement, and the lack of information provided by the university in the days following, have left students shaken. “I was a mess — absolutely devastated — and I still am,” Brooke Dusseau, a rising junior, tells Her Campus exclusively. “I don’t know my next steps, I just want my school back. I’m grieving this loss deeply.” 

Dusseau, like many of her peers, learned about the news from an Instagram post, rather than a message from their school. Since then, the UArts administration has continued to give little information as to what’s going on and what kind of support students will receive going forward. An informational session was supposed to be held on June 3, but it was canceled minutes before it set to begin; it was instead replaced by an online form where students can submit their questions. 

“The amount of information we, the community, have been sharing among ourselves, versus the amount given by the administration, is staggering,” Dusseau says. “I’m glad we have each other, but I’m overwhelmed by both the large amounts of information coming from everyone and the lack of communication from the people at the top who should be helping us.” 

When I found out about the abrupt closure, I thought I was having a nightmare

Without guidance from their school, students are now scrambling to find ways to continue their studies elsewhere. “When I found out about the abrupt closure, I thought I was having a nightmare; it took me a few hours to accept that it was real,” says rising sophomore EmmaLynne DeRoss, who was attending UArts on a presidential scholarship, meaning her education was free. Now, her future is uncertain. “I immediately started sending out my transcripts and reaching out to schools. I’m trying to find somewhere that will accept a screenwriting transfer for the fall, but I worry that I won’t be in the same financial position now as I was at UArts.”

In the wake of UArts’ closure, many colleges have announced they will welcome displaced UArts students. Some are automatically accepting anyone coming from UArts; others are waiving application fees and expediting the application process. This is undoubtedly a relief for many, but there are still countless hurdles these students are facing beyond their academics.

Rising junior Paige Mullen points out how they and their peers who held paid positions on campus are suddenly left without those income sources. “Wherever we end up, we have to start from scratch in terms of employment to support us,” Mullen says. Housing is also a major concern: “Many people I know, myself and my roommates included, have been left scrambling to figure out what to do about apartment leases for the coming year.”

This is to say nothing of the emotional toll this closure is taking on students. “I am heartbroken,” rising junior Angelina Abruzzi says. “UArts had so much opportunity for artists of all kinds. It will be difficult to find another school with such a strong sense of community.”

Alumni are also devastated. “The most frequent response I’ve received thus far is, ‘I bet you feel so lucky! You made it out just in time, huh?’” Brenna Patzer, who just graduated in May, says. “Lucky is not the word I would use to describe how I am feeling right now … How can I celebrate my accomplishments as the people I now know as family mourn unimaginable losses? In what world can I be excited about my future while so many futures are now terrifyingly blurred, with no explanation from administration of what steps will be taken to help clarify them?”

Katie Szykman, an alum from the class of 2023, feels similarly: “It saddens me to know that the future students won’t have access to the same amazing opportunities I had,” she says. 

Members of the UArts community have taken to the streets of Philadelphia in protest of the closure. “[Protesters] are hoping to gain more media attention in hopes of saving the school,” Szykman says. “While they know this is a huge feat, they have rallied in a way that has already gotten [the] attention of our mayor and city council members.” 

UArts protest
Courtesy of Stevie Reynolds

They’re also demanding accountability. “I trusted this school to take care of me — and [recently resigned UArts president] Kerry Walk, [previous president] David Yager, [board chair] Jud Aaron, and the whole board of trustees destroyed that trust,” rising senior Stevie Reynolds says. “I hope they are ashamed of themselves. They should be embarrassed … This closure has everything to do with financial negligence and greed, and nothing to do with the quality of our education or our educators.”

Despite the uncertainty, outrage, and confusion, this unfortunate situation has fostered a sense of closeness among those affected. “The students, faculty, and entire UArts community have bonded together in a way that is rare to find,” Patzer says. “The amount of artists and patrons of the arts living in Philadelphia that have come out to support our cause, offer words and actions of support, and help collect resources, is something I cannot adequately express my gratefulness for. This is the epitome of the human artistic spirit.”

Additional reporting by Lexi Williams and Julianna Marie.

Eliza Disbrow

Washington '26

Eliza Disbrow is a sophomore at the University of Washington with a plan to major in European Studies with a double minor in Spanish and business. Eliza is a writer, covering a variety of topics, from music, to books, to anime. Beyond Her Campus, Eliza serves as the co-vice president of the University of Washington Euro Club. In her free time, Eliza can be seen taking in the sights of Seattle on any of the available forms of public transportation, normally with a book in hand and headphones in her ears. She plays guitar and bass, mainly as an excuse to play either Fall Out Boy or Ghost to family and friends.