The next element of the students’ fight against the proposed EMU renovations appears to be the idea of a concert hall taking up residence in the potentially upcoming new student union building.
“There has been an increase of commercially driven projects on this campus recently,” ASUO President Ben Eckstein told the Emerald. “We need to protect a space that is for students, by students.”
The general thought being proposed is as follows: Students rejected the EMU vote in solid enough numbers, the concert hall is being heavily financed by a generous donation and it could be used in a commercial capacity for more money. Meanwhile, Eckstein’s administration doesn’t want this prospect of money to outweigh the students’ decision.
But the problem is that there isn’t really a problem with it, even if its main purpose was commercial. Because in that case, we leave ourselves open to what? Students being able to more safely attend concerts?
We should be jumping at the opportunity to make campus a safer place to have a good time. Last year, students did, and apart from a few bad apples, a few thousand students were able to stay on the corner of East 13th Avenue and University Street and still see someone like [email protected]@One irreplaceable and well-worn Texas ballcap was destroyed. It was a no-good, very bad [email protected]@
We understand where the argument is coming from, that students want to avoid the EMU turning into an environment that isn’t student-focused. But the framework of that argument is archaic when you consider the perspective of who our student body is. Our student experience is not about simply studying and going to classes. So much of being at the University is about getting the iconic slice of life that Eugene provides through larger live performances in the Hult Center and student performances in Beall Hall and Robinson Theater.@@i thought that that bball arena was [email protected]@
That’s probably why the music school didn’t agree with the student government’s opposition to the hall in the new EMU. Rather than needing students to trek out beyond Knight Library to Beall for their shows, the department could watch attendance shoot up as the venue becomes more realistic for the community.@@don’t want to make them do all that extra walking now, do [email protected]@
“I think any music major likes the concert hall.” University junior music major Daniel Hartley@@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&s=Daniel+Hartley@@ said. “There has been a lot of disturbance in the force with the recent discussion of cutting it out completely.”@@i’m with you [email protected]@
Brad Foley,@@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=staff&d=person&b=name&s=Brad+Foley@@ dean of the music school, confirmed other things lacking in Beall. Last year, when the school went under accreditation and program reviews, Foley said both of these reviews commented on certain facility elements, including a stage that was too small and a space that was acoustically inefficient. In their current space, the orchestra was forced to cram into a smaller stage and play at half-volume to accommodate the acoustics.
He said his school had worked with University Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes when the EMU plan for the music space was underway, and that his students were really excited for the project’s completion.
“The University is in great need of this kind of facility,” Foley said. “We’ve had to make do with an inferior space.”
Eckstein said that the concert hall wasn’t mentioned in the initial surveys with students two years ago, but rather that a multiuse theater was involved. The ASUO Executive does not oppose improvements to Beall or another performance hall; however, he said that there is a growing list of students, staff and faculty that opposes this addition to the EMU.
“One of the people who recently added his voice (to that list) was Bob Berdahl,” Eckstein said. “The school of the music is the only voice (in support of the EMU concert hall).”
However, we have a donation on hand to replace Beall, which is not working for the students who use it. Because we don’t know that their donation would also be used to build or refurbish a stand-alone performance hall, we should find a way to work with those students in opposition rather than simply oppose its part in the EMU remodel.
Picking fights over pieces of the larger EMU remodel plans — some (like this one) that actually benefit an entire department full of students — is not why a majority of students voted down the ballot referendum. Because if they knew the fuller picture — that every month this project is postponed makes the project a little harder and a little more expensive and that the School of Music and Dance really needed a new space — they would not support the framework of remodel argument.