As many are aware, UTSA has suspended face-to-face classes for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester due to COVID-19. The university issued several emails informing students of the new reality; however, it left some arts majors feeling frustrated and unaccommodated by the university.
Arts majors spend their whole semester preparing for end of semester projects and performances that are now canceled due to the coronavirus. For them, the campus permanently suspending face-to-face classes means everything they have been working hard on won’t be seen or resumed any time soon. Additionally, many arts majors don’t have the resources at home to adequately substitute the resources available to them on campus.
Senior music education major Shirlyn Davenport described her experience as an arts major affected by the university closing.
Q: How has the university closing impacted any end of semester projects/performances you had planned?
A: The university closing has impacted everything I had going on this semester. As a music major, I’m enrolled in the UTSA Concert Choir and we were scheduled for two concerts this semester: One on March 17th and one in April. Both have been canceled. We are hoping we’ll have the chance to perform the music for those concerts in the fall, but they have been canceled. I was also cast in the UTSA’s Lyric Theatre production of “Le Nozze de Figaro” which was scheduled to be performed April 2-5th and as of now those performances are canceled and we have no idea if we’ll ever perform them. This is also a pretty big year for me as far as classes go, I had 3 proficiency tests to move on to my upper-level music classes. I’ve taken 2/3 but have not heard yet about how I will take the rest.
Q: Are your projects/performances canceled or postponed? If postponed, do you have an idea of when your projects/performances will happen?
A: As of now; all recitals, concerts and performances are cancelled. Especially with the university closing and the arts building most likely being closed, we have nowhere to perform any of these events. We have not heard anything about rescheduling and we’re honestly just hoping the university will allow us to somehow show an audience what we’ve worked so hard for.
Q: Do you feel the university is empathizing with arts majors?
A: I don’t feel the university is empathizing with arts majors by limiting what we can/can’t do. Our department is amazing, and they know the best way to handle this situation, but the people making decisions for us are not people in our department, they’re much higher up. To shut down the university is one thing, but to shut down the arts building is detrimental to our success. Most music students do not outright own their instrument and are using the school. We also have piano classes, and most of us don’t own a piano to where we can just take that class online. The resources the arts building provides us are fundamental to our learning and with that being taken away we’re scrambling for alternatives, and it’s not right.
Q: Was UTSA’s response effective in addressing the concerns of the majors and organizations, specifically arts and music, heavily impacted by the university closing for the rest of the semester?
A: I want and need my professors, my department to really tell me how to handle this situation. They could’ve addressed the concerns of each major more by understanding each major is affected differently and not every major can do online classes…At the end of the day If I wanted to take classes online, I would’ve signed up for that, but I didn’t. Because some people learn best in person. I feel like UTSA should’ve given us a lot more options then they are. Some of my classes only have 5-7 students in them. I could’ve easily continued in person instruction with the consent of my classmates and professors, but we weren’t given that option. It’s a horrible situation that no one can prepare for, but UTSA needs to stop thinking about what’s going to make them look good, and save them money and time and effort, and look at how they students that pay to keep this university afloat, are being affected.
The virus has affected so many, but it is especially important to remember how essential the contribution of art is to a society and how this pandemic impacts the hard work of artists. Arts majors and organizations at UTSA and in San Antonio deserve empathy. At the moment, there are no further updates about rescheduled performances by UTSA organizations. For more updates on UTSA music, visit music.utsa.edu.