By Jennifer Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 23, 2013
A saxophone sextet’s rendition of “The Victors” echoed through the Britton Recital Hall Wednesday evening. University Provost Philip Hanlon sat in the front row, singing and clapping along with about 150 students before he gave his presentation.
Hanlon spoke to students in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance to discuss the University’s budget issues in the event, “Let’s Talk Tuition,” a product of the school’s recently established Collaborative Student Assembly. The assembly is a student governing body for the school that was formally launched at the beginning of the semester.
MT&D sophomore Gabrielle Lewis, a board member on the assembly, said the event marked the first time any provost at the University has visited and discussed these issues with the students of the school.
Lewis said she hopes the student government will allow others to feel more confident and willing to collaborate within the University.
The talk with Hanlon and Vice Provost Martha Pollack was also the first event ever hosted by the assembly. Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, an MT&D graduate student and president of the CSA, said the creation of the assembly served as a reason to hold the event.
“One of the main purposes of the group is to connect students and their ideas with the administration so that they could help,” said Hulting-Cohen.
The new assembly hopes to create more collaboration among students within the school and also with the University, he said. It is composed of students representing each department in the school and was created by Melody Racine, the school’s associate dean for academic affairs.
Hanlon and Pollack gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the priorities, pressures and responsibilities the University faces regarding the budget. Hanlon primarily spoke of the University’s strive for academic excellence, access and affordability for students in addition to budget constraint.
“I know all of you are concerned about the costs of higher education, and we are too,” Hanlon said.
Hanlon said access and affordability for higher education have become a major policy issue across the nation. Tuition has gone up at universities due to wages dropping, family size increasing and decline in state appropriations for public universities.
In 1960, the University received 80 percent of its money from the state; currently it receives 17 percent, Hanlon said.
Hanlon added that the University has been making efforts to aid this problem by prioritizing certain efforts in building renovations and lowering expenses per year by $235 million.
“The School of Music, Theatre & Dance is one of the gems on this campus,” Hanlon added. “You guys are remarkably talented and you have an incredibly creative energy to the culture on this campus.”
MT&D sophomore Ji Hoon Kang said he attended the event to learn about information that is not at the forefront of his concerns.
“I think (the budget) is very important to cover just because it raises a lot questions,” Kang said. “I’m very glad that I went.”
However, MT&D sophomore Elizabeth Raynes and MT&D junior Elizabeth Williams said they were disappointed with the information presented at the event.
“It was frustrating because this was supposed to be for MT&D, and all of the figures that he gave us were very general and based on the entire (University),” Williams said. “I understand that we’re not the largest and we’re not the most expensive, but I just didn’t really feel like he was trying to cater to us.”
Raynes, an out-of-state student who works a full-time job while taking classes, asked Hanlon about merit-based scholarships for students in the school. She was told to talk to someone in the school’s department.
“It’s incredibly difficult to come here to focus on my education when I have to spend so much other time trying to make sure that I can still be here.”