By Marissa Wetterau, Sports Editor
Last week, West Liberty University announced that they have cut all funding to the marching band and pep band as a result of budget cuts that have afflicted the university as a whole. WLU President Stephen Greiner blamed statewide budget cuts and added that it was the music department’s decision.
Since the announcement, many students, alumni, and people from the West Liberty community have voiced their opinions about cutting the marching band. Some say the program is an important part of the university. Many say they are disappointed in the news and are taking their views to social media.
West Liberty graduate Leslie Tedesco was in the marching band. She now teaches music locally and says she was disappointed in the news.
“It’s very hurtful when music or the arts are the first to go, because music is what I do and I hate to hear of any music or arts program cut from a university,” Tedesco said.
Tedesco says her experiences in the band as a clarinet and saxophone player were immeasurable and help her still today. “Every Saturday we were a part of the games and helped build morale, and it adds something to the atmosphere and pride to the school and without the band it is just very upsetting,” she said.
Interim Dean for the College of Arts and Communication, Dr. Matthew Harder, also commented on the current situation with the band. “This action was taken to improve the financial state of the University,” said Harder.
“The University made this decision in consultation with myself, the Chair of the Department of Music and Theater, the Band Director, and the faculty of the Music Program,” Harder continued. “To be clear, this decision was based purely on financial considerations. The faculty and students involved with these bands have always performed with excellence and professionalism. The bands were extremely well-organized, well-rehearsed, and represented the Music Program positively.”
Harder also said that during these difficult financial times, the university is cutting back campus-wide and that the university is trying to do everything they can to minimize the impact on the students.
While I and many others appreciate Dr. Harder’s statement and understand the ongoing budget cuts that are happening, this is simply a sad time for West Liberty and the over 50 students that are now left without the organization they love. It is always a shame to see the arts cut first when budgets get tight.
Tedesco says the news of West Lib’s bands being cut is particularly disheartening as March is Music in our Schools Month nationally. She says she wishes leaders would put more emphasis on the arts. “Possibly, consider giving yourself a pay cut instead of making the public suffer,” Tedesco suggested.
I could not agree more with what Leslie Tedesco has to say, but we all have to realize that this decision was made to “better improve the university” and “was a hard decision.”
I played the clarinet from third grade all the way up to my senior year in high school. I know how important and helpful having a marching band is to a school and its members.
Not only does a marching band boost school spirit, but band members have been shown to have higher math scores, higher reading scores and better discipline.
I am graduating in May, but I hope that President Greiner and others realize that the marching and pep bands are important to the university and eventually find a way to bring them back in the near future.