Where did money for the arts go?
Since Brandeis is a private R1 university — a selective ranking for the most research-intensive institutions — with high tuitions and a large, supportive alumni and donor base, Brandeis students should not have to ask “Where is the money?” After the severe cuts in club funding for this current semester, we have been forced to take a step back and look around as we are getting ready to pay our next tuition bill in December.
There are clear, significant differences between the facilities for those students who are studying STEM and those who are not. These differences keep increasing as the science complex continues to undergo an expansion that is quoted to total around $145 million, a result of the new engineering and architecture programs, and is not the first step in the multi-decade expansion and renovation of all STEM facilities. The University is betting on the students of the future, rather than focusing on the ones who are already here.
The recommendation of the cut of the Musicology and Composition Ph.D. programs — though Brandeis is in the top 10% of the country for music, ranked #2 in Massachusetts — there is a clear bias to where the University is spending its money. As stated in a recent interview with the Justice, the new Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Jeffrey Shoulson, stated, “We can’t continue to add programs without also subtracting somewhere else. We just don’t have the capacity to do that.”
While Shoulson was advocating for a more balanced funding allocation, this board urges other administrators to stand behind the students looking to take advantage of all aspects of the so-called equal “liberal arts education.” This board would also like to point out that this isn’t new for the University as on Dec. 20, 2018, the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism was closed due to the same issue of funding. A former Justice writer pointed out that this foreclosure of this department “leaves a blind spot in the school’s commitment to social justice.” The fact that “funding,” or lack thereof, caused the closure of this department is hypocritical and contradicts the University’s mission statement.
Members of our board can attest to the differences in the classroom as well as the difference in research opportunities. The University holds a large amount of pride for the Humanities Fellowship Program, one that is marketed as a community for students looking for both connections and opportunities. However, the participating members of this board have expressed a lack of both research opportunities and student participation.
The STEM students on this board have had much better luck finding research positions, which not only offer class credit, but can provide summer housing and valuable connections.
We as an editorial board urge admin to reevaluate the research positions offered and make them more accessible to students across all disciplines.
We encourage administration to take a step back and look around. All students are paying the same tuition bill and are entitled to the same levels of facilities and opportunities. The clear bias towards STEM decreases the desirability of the University and makes others feel unwelcome and unwanted on what is advertised as an inclusive campus for all.