What we Wish you Knew: An Open Letter from Music Students

 

Dear University and High School,

I was fortunate in high school to have had a wonderful arts department. The faculty, students, and facilities were excellent and I was well-prepared to be a college-level musician. Now, I am studying at a conservatory among talented peers under the direction of stellar professors.

But something is missing.

Support.

My high school music program and college conservatory were and are both incredibly supportive…internally. Within the arts departments, students and professors know each other well, building friendships and mentorships that will endure a lifetime. We cheer each other on in concerts, accompany each others’ solos, give each other advice. We pray for each other, share in the joy of each others’ accomplishments, and listen to each other practice the same piece for what feels like the millionth time.

But this is all internal support. “Intra-conservatory” if you will. Outside the walls of our halls, there is little understanding of who we are or what we do, causing music students to feel unknown and undervalued. This is not something that can be resolved overnight; however, it is vital to not forget what the arts contribute and, in turn, how you as a university can show your appreciation.

For instance, we as a conservatory or high school music program…

  1. …are there for youThe symphony orchestra played for a ceremony honoring the construction of a new science building. The chorale sings for all-student-body chapels. We as a department are there for you, the school as a whole. We love to see other departments benefit and want to lead the rest of the school in worship. However, this supportive relationship cannot be one-sided; we long for appreciation beyond a casual “thanks” in return.
  2. …earn scholarships too. Every time an athlete signs on with a university team or earns a scholarship, the school newspaper writes an article about it. I wonder if the school or the paper realize that music students also are recruited and offered large scholarships to attend and perform in ensembles, just like a sports team… Recognition of these awards equates to recognizing the excellence of the conservatory and the honor of being selected to participate in its ensembles.
  3. …are a tool for recruitment. The chorale tours every year, even when it is least convenient, in order to ensure that recruitment and enrollment at the school continue to increase. However, although members love to sing and to share their gifts with potential students, it is discouraging to go through all this work to serve the school and not receive any acknowledgement.
  4. …open our home to you. During large university events such as conferences, the conservatory opens its doors to all students, welcoming them into the hall that has become a second home for music majors. However, these visiting non-music students and faculty disregard this kindness by bringing in food and drink, leaving behind trash, and acting unruly. Please treat our building with respect! It is old, overcrowded, and falling apart enough already! (We don’t seem to be getting a new one any time soon.)
  5. …provide a community for anyone. Even if you are not a music major, if you are willing to be a team player, have a heart for music, or simply want a wonderful group of friends who will be there for you through thick and thin, the conservatory will welcome you with open arms. Ensembles open to everyone are offered, allowing those who might not have the desire (or insanity) necessary to be a music major to still enjoy the tight-knit and loving community that musicians offer.
  6. …are diligent and dedicated. What other major requires 4-6 hours of study every single day for only one class? And yet, we love what we do and chose to do it. Music majors are among the most dedicated and motivated students you will ever meet. They love what they do, even when it is stressful, and will push themselves to the maximum to ensure that they do it with excellence. Now, doesn’t that sound like the type of student a university would want to encourage and prioritize?
  7. …showcase the school’s strengths. Our university is full of talent, not just in the music department. However, the conservatory showcases these talents on stage for anyone to see. Community members not affiliated with the school often attend concerts and praise the program for its superior quality. Shouldn’t the school be more interested in the program that is drawing in outsiders and showing off the school’s strengths?
  8. …are more than musicians. Within the conservatory are writers, actors, dancers, artists, photographers, and athletes. There are future teachers, authors, businessmen, administrators, and missionaries. Music students are interested in a wide array of fields. However, in not investing in their lives as music students, the school is not investing in their wealth of other opportunities as well, which have the potential to benefit the school and the future of their chosen fields.
  9. …serve other departments. Composers write scores for the film department, pianists play for administrative events, and chamber ensembles perform for art shows. We even started a chapel to serve the more traditional people at the school. Whenever there is a need for music, the conservatory students are thrilled to help, in spite of their already overloaded schedules. We want to team up with other departments and thus foster greater cross-campus unity. However, it is difficult to continue doing so with the university seemingly providing only limited resources and support.
  10. …want to share our passion with you. The biggest thing to know about this issue is that we want to share with you. Any time we complain about being ignored or undervalued, we are expressing a deeper sadness that we are unable to share our gifts with our university community. We work from sunrise to midnight to create operas and concerts, eager to share the fruits of our labor with the school. But how are we to do this with an empty hall, or -worse- an audience that leaves at intermission?

We are pleading with you, our fellow students (and especially our administration), to come to our concerts, to experience for yourself the beauty of the music we love. Yes, we would love a new building with enough practice rooms and working facilities. We would love increased funding so that we can put on more lavish events or purchase the supplies we need. We would love to be included in the headlines of the school newspaper. However, the most meaningful way you as a university can show us your support is also the smallest: simply come and listen. 

Family Mistakes SoCal University for Resort: Stays for a Week

Friday, February 24, 2017: A family of four awoke to the terrible realization that what they thought was a luxury resort was actually a university. 

Above: Kale McBirkenstock upon finding out she was at a school. “Take a pic of me looking studious so I can post it on Insta!”

“When we did not receive a wake up call for our yoga class, we knew something was wrong,” said Açai McBirkenstock, wife of Chase McBirkenstock and mother to daughters Kale (19) and Chia (21).

Upon further investigation, the family found that what they had taken for a concierge was- in fact- the resident advisor of the dormitory they had mistaken for an inn and suites. 

“How were we to know?” moaned young Chia. “After all, they had everything we wanted in a resort.” 

Miss McBirkenstock and her family perhaps had reason for their mistake. The school, in attempts to live up to their mission statement of “#AmenitiesNotAnxieties,” had all but done away with potential causes of discomfort and stress. 

“We wanted to create an atmosphere of ease,” said the school’s dean of admissions. “After all, that’s how it is in the real world and it is our duty as an educational institution to prepare our students for this world.” 

The school has taken active steps to promote their goal, as the McBirkenstocks discovered firsthand. 

“They had everything you could ever want in a resort,” sighed Açai. “Oil tastings, made-to-order food, hammock rentals, housekeeping…even our dog Princess was welcomed and treated like a queen!”

“Truly a wonderful place,” agreed Mr. McBirkenstock. “It’s really too bad it ended up being just another educational institution.” 

Although the McBirkenstocks had to cut their vacation short, students at the university are sure to continue to enjoying their stays and the administration promises to “never rest until their students can only rest.”

Student to Sue State University over Conservaphobic Practices

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A protester holds a sign, as protesters usually do.

Frustrations are on the rise at one California university as students and completely unrelated activists alike fight to end a perceived attack on student choice. The Second University of California has long held to its liberal values; it is a place known for its lack of enforcement of all antiquated ideologies, which administrators boast promotes a distinctly amoral and anarchist atmosphere that no private school would be able to match.

“We pride ourselves on having absolutely no convictions,” says the dean of admissions, who has opted not to be identified by any formal name, title, or pronoun. “By not taking sides on any issue, we don’t offend anybody. And that is the goal of a higher education, after all, to avoid offending students as they learn to live their lives.”

But, one student in particular says that this is not the case. Maryn Blue, junior Biblical studies major at SU of C, is stepping up and speaking out against the only thing that this school stands for and has stood for throughout the past century.

“It’s ridiculous,” says Maryn emphatically. “They say they don’t want to offend anybody, but it’s just not true! I’m here and I’m offended!”

When asked what exactly she found so offensive about her college, Maryn said simply one made-up word:
“Conservaphobia.”

While SU of C claims to be completely free of all institutions and ideologies that might cause offense to anyone, everyone, and their dogs (SU of C is also known for its animal inclusion program and is currently the only school where a chimpanzee not only was admitted but graduated magna cum laude with a degree in philosophy. It is speculated that this brainy primate might have had a paw in writing the school’s “Suggestions of Conduct,” a document which gives vague and optional guidelines for student behavior and can be signed or amended by any student if they are so inclined.)

However, despite SU of C’s striving for total affirmation of all things, Maryn is not alone in feeling oppressed by what she considers to be rampant conservaphobia. She, along with a small but loud group of like-minded students called the “Morality Underground” is taking aggressive measures to force the school to change in order to accommodate them.

“Yeah,” said Maryn with a defiant shrug, “I probably could have looked into the school’s lack of policies before I came, or maybe read their pamphlets before applying, but why should it be my responsibility to be informed about the college I attend? That’s a lot to ask of a 23-year old.”

When asked to elaborate on ‘conservaphobia,’ Maryn explained, “SU of C is a wonderful place. I love this place so much. It has sidewalks and benches and coffee and really good breakfast burritos. I cannot really stress how much I love this place.”

After waiting a few more minutes for Maryn to finish her professions of love for SU of C, she continued to complain about how cruel the school has been to her and how unhappy she has been there.

“I’m a Biblical studies major,” declares Maryn. “But you know what upsets me? My academic advisor keeps telling me that SU of C does not have a Biblical studies degree program because it’s a secular university. That is really an injustice! It’s conservaphobia, plain and simple, that they won’t hire professors or offer courses for my chosen field of study! I mean, just because a school is secular does not excuse it from having to promote subjects that contradict its values, right? ”

Maryn did not wait long before answering her own question.

“Right! I’m absolutely right and when the school tries to tell me I’m not, it really hurts my feelings, which, if I am not mistaken is against SU of C’s only value: that of non-offense.”

There are numerous private universities across the United States that hold to the same values that Maryn posts about on her Tumblr. It is reasonable to assume that such schools would have welcomed Maryn and Co. with open arms and financial aid, but when asked why she did not just choose to attend a school that aligned with her values rather than “hateful conservaphobia,” Maryn rolled her eyes and answered:

“Here’s the thing. Who’s usually paying for college? The parents. So who gets the biggest say in where a kid goes to college? That’s right. The parents.”

She went on to explain that her parents could not afford to send her to a private university and that even if they could, they were adamantly against the strict morals of such places.

“They wanted me to be a woman of the world, but that just wasn’t me. So here I am, trying to be myself in this place where I do not feel that it is appreciated. When I am told I can live in whichever dorm I want, am given vegan options at every meal, and am taught amoral subjects such as math, I feel the the weight of my trial. I have drafted a series of demands. If the school does not immediately cater to these whims, my friends and I are prepared to sue for damages.”

Already, over 93 individuals of the 80,000 that make up the SU of C student body, have signed this petition. Of these, nearly 17% have acknowledged reading the document and claim to possess a general idea of its contents.

“Yeah, I read it,” said Kale McBirkenstocks, super-senior undecided major. “I oppose phobias of all kinds and it would have been against my clinically-diagnosed phobia-phobia to not sign this petition.”

Maryn is confident her support can only grow from here.

“I think most people will come to agree that forcing a secular school to adopt religious moral policies is not unreasonable,” she concluded. “Besides, everyone will certainly agree that the government’s hard-earned money should not be used to fund education that promotes ‘conservaphobia’ rather than traditional, virtuous learning.”

Maryn is hopeful that she will be able to gather the external support necessary to pressure SC of U into complying with her goals. And, despite never truly defining ‘conservaphobia’ or proving how it violates her rights, Maryn is insistent that it is “a newfangled notion that can be overcome with greater activism.”