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Hancher/Voxman decision and forum irrelevant in face of delay

BY PATRICK BIGSBY | OCTOBER 14, 2009 7:20 AM

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After enduring the swath of destruction from 2008’s flood, grieving over the tragic death of a professor, and performing all over town in various echo chambers, the School of Music is an easy target. At this point, any criticism seems like a cheap shot at a dilapidated punching bag.

That won’t stop me.

Monday night’s open forum on the future site of the Hancher/Voxman/Clapp complex was, allegedly, the final opportunity for students and community members to express their views on the possible outcomes.

Unfortunately, discussion on this matter is too little, too late. Peoples’ opinions on Monday night were drops in an ocean of clamor, and our overly hesitant leadership still hasn’t come to a conclusion.

Why is this discussion still occurring over a year after the flooding permanently closed the complex? The regents have rubber-stamped the construction, Federal Emergency Management Agency funding is in place, and contractors have been pitching their offers, but none of the hard decisions have been made. What, exactly, are we waiting on?

As a music student, I understand firsthand the complexity of coordinating the various egos that need to participate in the decision-making process. I understand the chaotic moving and re-moving necessary to establish interim facilities. I understand the disorganization, misinformation, sacrifices, and bone-headed decisions that came from failed attempts to combat the interim facilities’ many inadequacies.

What I don’t understand, however, is why School of Music administrators (in conjunction with their colleagues in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences administration) are prolonging the process of taking the one tangible step that will start our education on the long path back to normalcy and begin to move past the flood aftermath.

Facilities are a key component in attracting the most desirable prospective students and, of course, the most desirable prospective students are a key component in developing the kind of high-quality ensemble performance and scholastic achievement for which the School of Music is known. I worry that our inability to make a decision on the complex’s location only prolongs stunted recruiting efforts. Right now, we can’t even show prospective students our plan for the future.

The two remaining sites are both great options — especially compared with the current system of combining a botched University Capitol Centre space with the former Museum of Art (with a couple other sites scattered throughout town). The downtown option has a higher initial cost but could be considered a long-term investment in universal student access and downtown’s vitality. The West Side option is a cheaper setting, but it is removed from the center of student life.

Either way, anything is better than what we’re dealing with now. You can flip a coin for all I care, so long as you do it by the end of this week.


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