Posted on April 7, 2014

Editorial

Out of tune

Scholarships will be streamlined with good and bad consequences.

This fall, some academic programs at Laramie County Community College might look a little different. There might be a few more students learning the ropes in the growing agriculture program. Dental hygiene, surgical technology and nursing students might find it easier to scrub into college. But a walk through the music department might no longer yield the happy melodies of a tuba or piano.

Instead, the classrooms and practice rooms in the western section of the Fine Arts Building might often be more empty than filled. As the college implements a major scholarship allocation overhaul, we will be noticing a lot of changes, both good and bad. A full story covering the scholarship reallocation can be found in this special section on Pages B4-B5.

Recently, the college changed the system by which it allocates and administers scholarships to Student Government Association senators in order to distribute these scholarships fairly between the Cheyenne campus and Albany County Campus as well as to ensure the SGA was allowed to act separately from the influence of the institution. Previously, senators at the Cheyenne campus were given activity scholarships, which is a type of institutional scholarship. Institutional scholarships are made up with funds coming directly from the college, not those allocated from student fees or given by private donors. Some senators were receiving much larger scholarships than others, and there was no way to ensure after they received their scholarships they would continue to be active in SGA. The change reflects what the ACC’s system has been and offers senators a maximum of $600, partially based on their involvement in the SGA. The funds for these scholarships now come directly from student fees.

College reallocates scholarship funds equally

The change in SGA scholarships is reflective of a larger movement being made at the college to reallocate scholarship funds equally and clarify requirements for activity scholarships. The new system will spread institutional scholarship funds equally to the four academic schools, giving a smaller portion to workforce development.

Previously, the music department received a large portion of these funds, enabling them to recruit music students who could otherwise most likely not attend LCCC because of financial constraints. This removal of funds will leave them crippled, at best. 

The news that in the next few years the music program as we know it would die out hit close to home for us at Wingspan, as we have grown accustomed to hearing the music made by students singing and practicing their instruments drift through the FA building. We believe music is an important program that enhances the lives of many of the college's students. Through jazz and wind ensembles as well as vocal performances, the music program has given students the chance to showcase their growing talent while participating in the community.

The average choral concert requires 20 singers in order to give a great performance. The average jazz ensemble 20 experienced musicians; the average wind ensemble requires about 30. Many of these are students of LCCC.

These ensembles and concerts, which are organized by LCCC’s music program, are also wonderful opportunities for community members to become involved in college projects, meet and interact with students and display their own musical talents.

Music program home to living, learning

Our music program teaches patience and tenacity. It cultivates a diverse set of artists who represent the college well.  It has been a place of living and learning for many of LCCC’s students. This has been possible because the college has been generous in funding the program, allocating a large portion of scholarship funds to the program each year.

The program has flourished in this environment of giving, growing substantially in size and number of graduates in the last decade; however, the reallocation of funds to other schools will hurt the program to an unknown extent, possibly reducing it to an extracurricular activity. Earlier this year, music faculty was asked to select one of four options for the future of the music program to be implemented immediately. All included a drastic reduction of the program.

In addition, the implementation of the new scholarship reallocation system will mean the end of growth in the music program, as the faculty will be unable to recruit anywhere near the current level. This recruitment is vital to the program. Often, talent has to be sought out. The music faculty has to have the ability to scout high schools, looking for musicians who know and love their instruments.  They cannot wait until a pianist or alto singer with training and ability walks through the doors. Without the incentive of scholarships, this will mean the death of LCCC’s music program.

Passionate music, theater students deserve higher education

We at Wingspan value fairness and support equality. We understand there is need for scholarship funds throughout the college. We applaud the initiative being made by the administration to clarify the qualifications of scholarship funding throughout the college and use student fees more wisely. However, this is not a victimless decision. What each program and department can offer to students varies greatly, and the needs are drastically different. While many of the health and science programs are self-sufficient, the music and theater programs require scholarship incentives to bring in new students. We believe great musicians and actors are just as vital to a well-balanced society as nurses, engineers and mathematicians. The music and theater programs offer a different set of skills, but they also cater to a different kind of student. These are students who will not pursue majors in LCCC's math, science, agriculture or health programs. They will pursue a major in music or theater, not an extracurricular activity. The music and theater programs exist to serve a niche, a community of people searching for a very specific type of instruction. This small group of passionate people requires and deserves a higher education just as much as those pursuing majors in LCCC's health sciences and wellness, math and science, and business, agriculture and technology schools.

So what can be done? The new system of allocation appears clean and equal. We at Wingspan are not suggesting or hoping for that decision to be undone. We value programs such as nursing and agriculture that are offering students a quality education; however, we cannot leave music and theater without hope. We cannot bear the thought of losing these programs that cultivate students’ abilities to grow their talents, give the community inspiring performances and anchor LCCC as a cultural center in Cheyenne, where opportunities for the fine and performing arts are limited.  

Why was this decision made with no effective solution for the programs that would be left paralyzed in its wake? The faculty and students who have faith and hope in the outcome of our programs deserve better than to be left out in the cold when change comes.

Though it might not be best for the music program to be sustained entirely on scholarship funds, we hope it will be provided enough to continue growing and giving its students the quality education music students expect and hope for when they attend LCCC.

Offering other programs more scholarship opportunities certainly sounds harmonious, but when the change is so dramatic, the arrangement for some programs falls flat. 


Other content
in special section:

Major regressions
in scholarships cause
dissonance for music program

Gen ed trims fat from core

Enrollment rise expected
despite dropping rate

President: Unclear programs lead
students to transfer, drop out

Lab hours change to help
students complete faster