By John Sosnowski
February 23, 2017
A recent controversy has emerged at Lock Haven University over the fear of cutting the swimming and track & field athletic programs. On February 9, The Eagle Eye reported that athletes from both programs had organized a silent protest in Sloan Performance Center and were rallying support online using the “#SaveHaven” hashtag. The threat of cutting athletic programs is another symptom of an ongoing crisis, in which Lock Haven University chips away at the institutions which give the American university system substance.
The February 9 issue of the Eagle Eye also reported on the University Players’ preparation for a new semester, in a piece that also brought back to light LHU’s moratorium on the theatre major. University Players insists that extracurricular theatre will persist at LHU even if the graduating class of 2019 is the last to feature theatre graduates, as is expected. However, the lack of academic training in theatre through a major will likely prove a detriment to extracurricular theatre organizations’ ability to produce the best possible product. Furthermore, theatre joins philosophy and more than one foreign language as fine arts and liberal arts fields which promote critical thinking and a worldly, well-rounded perspective, yet have been or are scheduled to be placed on moratorium from LHU’s courses of study.
Skeptics would argue that the recent challenges with State System of Higher Education funding make painful cuts necessary. Indeed, the state of the PASSHE budget is startling; members of the PASSHE community ought to engage with state government and State System administration on this issue. But, there is another dimension to the budget woes specific to Lock Haven University. We are told LHU cannot afford fine and liberal arts majors like theatre and philosophy, or athletic programs such as swimming and track.
However, we, as a university community, have afforded involved construction and landscaping where Russell Hall once stood, where a simple green space like University Park’s “HUB Lawn” would have sufficed. We have afforded the construction of a luxury foyer on the Fairview Street side of Ulmer Hall, and an amphitheater despite the moratorium of the theatre major. (Irony!) We have afforded big name artists for Spring concerts such as a Fetty Wap appearance which an Eagle Eye reporter deemed “mediocre,” and diversionary HAC Hump Days events which do little to enrich the campus culture compared to the likes of theatre and intercollegiate athletics. With the trend of decisions which threaten the fine and liberal arts as well as athletics, LHU is beginning to look more like a trade school featuring supplementary entertainment and monumental architecture, at the cost of the mosaic opportunities which make the American university system special.