Students Protest Arts Cuts at St. Catherine

May 18, 2017 06:39 PM

Students are pushing back after St. Catherine University decided to eliminate its theater and music majors.

Those who have already declared their major can graduate with the degree, but many worry about the future of the school's liberal arts identity.

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The 112-year-old school said the programs had very low enrollments, but were among the most expensive.

More than a dozen students sang songs and held signs Thursday morning, opposing the administration's decision.

Brigit Larkin, a music theater major, knew cuts were possible a couple years ago, but that didn't soften the blow.

"I'd like to see the administration redouble their efforts and prove that they've done everything they can to save this program before they go and cut it," Larkin said.

Larkin said her love for St. Kate's runs deep because her grandmother also studied music at the school.

"If we lose music and theater, we lose so much of the art here," Larkin said.

Alan Silva, the Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, said the decision wasn't made lightly.

In fact, Silva said he's been working on the issue since he joined the university a decade ago. Pointing to consistently low enrollment, Silva explained three of the nine students majoring in theater and music graduate this spring.

"That (in) itself is very telling," Silva said. "There just isn't great student demand or student interest in these particular majors."

While the university hopes to save money, students worry it will come at the cost of their camaraderie, creativity and classes.

"We may not have access to things like music lessons or theatrical productions, which are essential to what we study here," Larkin said. "It's more than just the classes."

Silva insists the department of music and theater will remain intact, and performing arts will continue to be a big part of the university's liberal arts heritage.

"We'll have to do it differently, but we'll still have some courses and there will still be some of these co-curricular activities," Silva said.

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Tyler Berg

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