LETTER: McCain renovations prioritize donors over students, and that’s not right

McCain Auditorium is scheduled to be renovated with a new lobby area. (Courtesy Photo by the KSU Foundation)

This letter to the editor was written by Joshua Arnoldy, senior in applied music and speaker pro tempore for student senate. If you would like to write a letter to the Collegian, send us an email at letters@kstatecollegian.com or visit kstatecollegian.com/contact.

Though it has been in the works for a while, the Kansas State University Foundation recently released their plan to aid the support of expanding the lobby of McCain Auditorium on social media.

Their plan is to provide renovations to the promenade and administrative studio, as well as an outdoor plaza. Since it is a renovation and expansion that emphasizes the importance of art and creation on our campus, you would expect many students to be in favor of such a project.

However, if you ask many students in the music department (including myself), you would find a different story.

Many of the students who utilize the class space in McCain are quite upset about this project. As individuals who regular the stained sinks and bathroom stalls, or frequent the deteriorating practice rooms containing pianos with missing keys, we feel like we are missing out.

The music department specifically holds almost all of its classes on the east side of McCain, the part that patrons rarely see. The condition of the building is not in good shape.

In the warmer months, we hold rehearsals with black bugs scurrying across the floor. The practice rooms are limited and below poor conditions.

I frequently take breaks from practicing just to cool down due to the heat that builds up in those rooms. More often than not, the pianos in those rooms have missing pedals or keys that stick, if they are still there at all.

As a completely true story, I once got locked inside a practice room when the door knob came off as I tried to exit.

The McCain Performance Series has and continues to bring enlightenment and entertainment to our campus in the form of speakers, performers and artists. There is no doubt in the incredible work they do, and I am not saying they don’t need or deserve a renovation.

But let’s not forget that $150,000 from students goes to the McCain Performance Series annually, pulled from the fine arts category of the student privilege fee. The auditorium and its lobby are in superb condition when compared to the classrooms we use each and every day.

McCain’s success is determined and measured by student success. We cannot value it over our own students.

I understand that the process for classroom renovation is quite different from a KSU Foundation funding program. Furthermore, we aren’t the only department suffering from poor conditions (is there still asbestos in Cardwell Hall?).

Still, the proposal itself feels demeaning from the perspective of students.

As an institution, we are saying that we support art and creativity, but not the artists or creators. We want to bring new music, dance and theatre to our campus, yet we neglect the students who will become our future musicians, dancers and actors.

To many music students, this project makes it feel like the university just doesn’t care about us.

Money speaks, and considering where it’s being used, I don’t disagree.

Joshua Arnoldy is a senior in applied music and the speaker pro tempore for Kansas State’s Student Governing Association. The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.