Students demand improved music program

Students march from Community Hall to Bexell Hall and back on Thursday, May 2, calling for increased support for the university’s music program.

Delaney Shea, News Editor and Nyjah Gobert

Students marched from Community Hall to Bexell Hall last Thursday to advocate for increased resources and transparency regarding funding decisions on behalf of the Music Department of Oregon State University.

Fliers were found last week in Community Hall, which houses the music department, criticizing the lack of stability and the current state of the music program. According to Baylor Turnbow, a music major, and an organizer of the rally, said the event was motivated by frequent losses of music faculty members, inadequate resources and outdated curriculum, but was ultimately spurred by the loss of the director of bands, Christopher Chapman, Ph.D. The students rallying played “We’re Not Gonna Take it” on their instruments and chanted, calling for the university to make music education more of a priority and increase funding transparency. 

“The announcement that Dr. Christopher Chapman, our current director, is leaving was made three months ago and the position is still not open for applicants, and unfortunately the position will likely not be granted tenure track,” Turnbow said via email. “We marched today specifically to address these concerns in solidarity to advocate for a director of bands position with tenure track and also on behalf of all of our professors who have to worry about losing their jobs every year.”

Janie Anderson, a fourth-year music major, said Community Hall, the music building, is run down, with inadequate practice rooms that are not sound proofed. Anderson said the music program has not been supported by the administration.

“We will stand in front of your office until you know that the music department is part of your department,” Anderson said. “We literally have some of the best faculty in the state here but I’m sure all of them are tired of being pushed down by administration. Music isn’t just the students in this building it’s everybody.”  

Turnbow said in addition to inadequate practice rooms, there are broken chairs in the recital hall, not enough music stands to go around, and the windows frequently will not stay open, rendering fire escapes inaccessible.

“Issues pertaining to things like fire escapes are the only issues that get resolved in our department because they are emergent,” Turnbow said. “We rallied today because our department is in an emergent state. If, like our facilities, it is not attended to, we will not function.” 

Abby Cohen, a first-year music student, said she found what is happening to the department unsettling.

“I want to fight for my rights as a music student, we are just as qualified and on the same levels as everyone else at this school,” Cohen said. “It’s just sad to me to see how we are tested and there’s inequality with the students at so many different universities. I think that, for what we can do protesting is making sure we have a voice and I want to be heard.”

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