A few weeks ago, my university released a plan that involved cutting our arts programs, cutting over 100 faculty members in the middle of a pandemic, and creating a university that is “student-centered”. Changes will begin in the fall of next year. Many IUP students and faculty are extremely upset and I think what the school is doing is not right.
Friday morning, my geoscience professor emailed my class and cancelled her office hours due to how this retrenchment affected her personally. As someone who normally enjoys getting the “no class” email right before the weekend, the reasoning and how it’s hurting my professors do not feel right. Scrolling through social media, I found out my sociology professor from last fall is being retrenched at the end of this academic year. She made class interesting and I enjoyed coming to class early just to get to talk to her before class began. I may not have a major in the arts, but the arts and humanities departments are just as important as the STEM classes we are required to take for our degrees.
To me, cutting the arts or music programs anywhere never made sense to me. As I’m typing this article, I have my AirPods in listening to music. That’s considered an art that we all take for granted daily. All the artists we stream on Spotify or Apple Music are all a part of the arts. I grew up in a house where music was playing on every floor and music has been a center in my life for as long as I can remember. Even the Tiktoks we spend countless hours watching are forms of arts and creative expression.
One of my favorite things to do with my friends is to go down to either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh and just explore. Some of the best memories I have with them are exploring the different exhibits in the museums and taking pictures and learning new things. All of the exhibits, sculptures, or paintings you find in those museums were all created by artists. How can we continue these forms of entertainment without having the programs to teach them?
I am absolutely ashamed to have to watch IUP cut programs and lay off over 100 professors in the middle of a pandemic, where they rely on the university for insurance and stability during this horrible time. By cutting programs, they are forcing these professors to search for new jobs and potentially have to relocate or start commuting farther to give college students an education. IUP is home to many students, including myself, and now incoming college students will not get to come to Indiana and get their degrees here if they want to pursue the major being cut. My heart goes out to anyone affected during this retrenchment process, and I hope that President Driscoll ultimately reconsiders. Enrollment rates may be down, but taking these programs away will not help the university grow overall. IUP was able to spend millions to build a new dining hall that the school did not need, and Kopchick Hall is under construction, but my question is where is any sort of funding for the arts? Where is the support for the arts programs?