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Arts majors at WCU lose ensembles and studio space to online schooling

Photo from wcupa.edu

West Chester University’s recent campus shutdown has drastically changed the lives of all its students but has especially affected those who require on-site materials and hands-on classwork. One of these groups includes those in the College of Arts & Humanities that reside on the corner of High and Rosedale. Students face losing access to instruments, acting partners, sculpting materials and much more.

Though all students have lost access to important class time, this can be made up for by using the tool Zoom. Zoom is a video-conference app that allows professors to reach out to their students, as well as allows students to reach out to their professors. However, not everything can be substituted in online classes.

Music Education major Brandon Olmeda describes the valuable experiences that students of music are struggling to make up.

“What hurts us musicians the most is not being able to play in ensembles; [it’s] one of the major reasons we are music students. That leaves us writing many essays about what we would be doing in ensembles and our instrumental classes instead of the one-on-one instruction our classes are built around,” he said.

Whereas Olmeda calls Swope home, Graphic and Interactive design major Padraic Richardson spends most of his time in the E. O. Bull Center. Just like ensembles are unable to gather, Richardson described how students of art are struggling to make up for lost space.

“The big thing we miss out on is the right amount of space for us to do our work. I, for instance, don’t have a studio to do my drawings in or a big open work station for painting—and as said before, the right programs not being on hand [is not] so easy,” he said.

One thing both students mentioned are the positive and forgiving attitudes of their professors during this time. Olmeda praised his professors for their hard work and encouraged other students to try and understand the situation.

“Most of my professors seem to be handling the situation very well. I have been conversing with many and they are working nonstop to ensure that we are still able to be as successful as possible during the change. Honestly, the student body are the ones running around like headless chickens all over social media. I have always heard never to act on anything within 24 hours of a big event happening; nonetheless many of my peers decided to take their emotionally driven opinions to Facebook immediately after the announcement,” he said.

Richardson also voiced praise for WCU as they worked to aid his major in this technological transition.

“When it comes to digital, the right programs [and] software we use are primarily kept in the art building. Without access to that, we have to try and get the software on our own devices at home. WCU has actually been good with that and got the programs for us to use as they transition onto an online alternative,” he said.

Update (3/19): Adobe is currently providing its services for free. Students are encouraged to check their campus emails for more information.

The university has taken to using an FAQ page to answer commonly asked student questions. It does not specifically address questions from the likes of music or visual performance, but it does offer answers for the education component. Education students like Olmeda who have had to postpone recitals also face making up practical and student teaching opportunities.

West Chester University is working hard to make this transition as smooth as possible and has taken each and every one of its majors into account. This three-week spring break is not spent idly by many university faculty and staff, and it will show when WCU returns to finish out the semester. Olmeda acknowledges that everything happens for a reason, and though many students are sad to leave the campus, it is ultimately for the best.

“I believe it is better to err on the side of safety, and the situation of the student population would most likely be a lot worse if the university did not act the way they did,” he said.

Caroline Helms is a first-year student majoring in English and minoring in political science. CH923631@wcupa.edu 

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