Arts face the chopping block

By the editorial board

UK students, faculty and staff have all felt the pressure of budget cuts. Tuition increases and laid off employees  are just two outcomes.

At UK, only a handful of programs have been reorganized, consolidated or cut altogether.

However, at Eastern Kentucky University, 21 programs are up for suspension. EKU’s administration formed a committee last spring to review programs.

Recently, EKU announced the programs facing possible suspension. The committee based its decision on graduation and enrollment rates, not on what the program offers students.

“We find ourselves in this position thanks in large part to the actions of others: the reduction of our state appropriation and the proposed performance-based funding model, which is still under development,” said EKU in a statement earlier this month. 

EKU’s Board of Regents should consider the programs’ worth, not just the number of students graduating, as the board decides to officially cut programs. 

Most of the programs are in the arts and while more graduating high school students are encouraged to study a STEM major, or Science Technology Engineering Mathematics, the arts are just as equally important. 

Budget cuts need to be addressed but cutting the arts is not the answer. Learning French can be as challenging as learning engineering and both have a place in the career world.

EKU’s administration said it recognizes the importance of a liberal arts education. However, in a statement released earlier this month, EKU said this review is about “ensuring our degree offerings attract students to EKU, provide them with a strong academic experience while here, and prepare them to be successful after graduation.”

The loss of these programs will have a ripple effect on the university, and not for the better. 

EKU said the student newspaper, The Eastern Progress, will continue if a true journalism major or minor is cut, but student reporters will not be studying their craft. Strong student newspapers are vital today to hold their university accountable. 

Also, without programs that encourage self-expression like theatre and philosophy, EKU students will not have an outlet to show their diversity on campus.  

To ensure all incoming and future college students can get a well-rounded education, EKU and other colleges choosing to cut art programs should opt to save the programs as much as they can. 

State legislators in Frankfort should also consider the effects of cutting funding to higher education in the future. If the state congress did not approve these cuts earlier this year, EKU, UK and colleges across Kentucky would not have to make tough choices regarding their students’ educations. 

When high school seniors choose to attend a college or university, they should have access to all topics of education, not just science and math.

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