Ithaca College has a history of being as transparent as a brick wall. With the second phase of the Academic Program Prioritization (APP) process going forward, the college community is pushed to not just the sidelines, but up to the nosebleed section — looking down, no one knows what the college is doing or why we only get to see the consequences. The administration is not known for its transparency or communication skills, but we must continue to demand that they make these changes for the sake of their relationship with the rest of the community and the college’s reputation.
The APP is going forward with plans to move the Department of Theatre Arts to the School of Music from its current place in the School of Humanities and Sciences. This includes a lot of changes and restructuring of the entire college, but who did the administration consult? Who did it ask for insight on whether this is the right choice for the two schools and the students? Why are theatre majors who have concentrations in stage management or production being moved to the School of Music? Students and faculty alike are confused. They are unaware if they should even be concerned because no information has been shared on how this shift will look for each major, its students and professors. Students need a voice in what changes are administered in their own school, their own majors. This affects them more than it does for the administration. Their opinion should’ve been taken into consideration and they should be kept updated regularly on what the new structure means for them. This is the bare minimum the college owes its students.
This change could make sense for some of the majors like the musical theatre majors, theatre production and design majors with a concentration in sound design, and dance minors. In many other colleges, they are usually all under the same umbrella as performance arts or fine arts. But what does this mean for production and design majors? It seems like they are being swept to the side or erased. If the college were to rename the School of Music to acknowledge the new theatre-related majors that will be a part of the school, this could help the new school feel more united. However, potential plans for this have not been announced.
All these questions are left unanswered, and students and faculty are left speculating over what the answers are and what they are to expect. Depending on the speculations they make, students and faculty will see this transition as either beneficial or detrimental. But they can’t be certain, because no one really knows what this means for the two schools and what it will look like. There’s almost no way to form an opinion on it without any information. The college cannot continue to withhold information — it is completely unacceptable — or not take into consideration the voices of the rest of the community, because it only shows that it is catering to the school for its own benefit over what is best for its students and faculty.