When news broke that Kwantlen Polytechnic University was suspending intake for its music program as part of an effort to reduce course offerings for the 2019-20 fiscal year, students and faculty responded almost immediately.
Within a week, representatives of the program were writing angry letters to the Dean of Arts, the Provost, and the President of the university as well as organizing protests against the cuts on campus and speaking to the media about their fight to keep the department alive.
Through these efforts, members of the music community have repeatedly brought up how unexpected the news was and how poorly they feel the university handled the announcement that it was planning to suspend the program’s intake.
“This was really a blindside, just a complete blindside,” says Emma Dotto, President of the Kwantlen Music Student Association. “I found out through a friend messaging me saying that another friend had messaged her who was in high school [and had applied to the music program] who had just gotten the email from the Dean saying that they were no longer accepting intake.”
Though the protestors have not had much of a chance to meet with the administration in the weeks since the news first broke, they did cross paths with the university’s president on March 8, when the department held a faculty showcase on the Langley campus. The event was narrated by KPU President Alan Davis, and was largely attended by students and faculty members from the music program.
“Ultimately, we just want tonight to be a statement, but as a positive statement and a positive experience for all parties,” says Bradley Patrick, a music student set to graduate this year. “We don’t want to be seen as numbers and right now, that’s what it feels like.”
As the students and faculty had hoped, the Langley campus auditorium was almost full for the showcase and the music faculty was able to put on a phenomenal show for attendees.
Unfortunately, many of the applicants to the music program who were affected by the suspension of intake are still scrambling to find a new institution to enrol in.
“Kwantlen might be their only option if they want to stay at home or if they need a tuition that’s affordable,” explains Dotto.
Emily Hernandez, a KPU music student and music teacher in the community, elaborated on this issue through the effect it had one of her prospective students, explaining that “she had intended on coming to KPU and spending the next four years of her life here, and now it’s all put on hold because of the university’s actions.”
Though intake remains closed, the music students are “ready to fight,” according to Dotto.
“What do musicians do best? We make noise,” she says. “Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but we make noise, right?”
The students and faculty of the music program say that they intend to continue to make as much noise as possible in the hopes that the university’s administration reconsiders their decision to cancel its first year intake.