By Dustin Niles
Layout & Design Editor
In the University of Dayton Arena last spring, two NCAA playoff basketball teams clashed on the court: Fairleigh Dickinson University and Florida Gulf Coast University (“FGCU”). As the teams battled on the court, there was also a battle happening off the court. Behind the basket, the FGCU pep band raised their instruments, took a breath and blew the hats off the photographers crouched in front of them. Throughout the game, they made their presence known by drowning the arena in music every time their team dropped a three-pointer or stole the ball.
But although the FDU fans cheered when the Knights did the same, the cheers sounded small and empty, because there was no band to carry them.
FDU has a championship basketball team.
But FDU doesn’t have a band.
Fairleigh Dickinson University emphasizes arts and humanities programs on its Madison campus. In fact, that campus hosts all FDU’s music offerings, including a music minor and a bachelor of arts degree in Theater Arts, and a Musical Theater concentration. Any student who wants any kind of education in performing arts would choose the Madison campus. This arrangement doesn’t account for students who want to play music, but find their academic needs best met by the programs at the Metropolitan campus.
Those students are stuck with the choice of either leaving their musical interests in high school or making the hour-long trek to the Madison Campus. The students at the Florham campus are happy to have a music program.
“I think we have a lot of really talented people on our campus, said Rachel Kleinwaks, a junior Communications major. “It’s great for them to have a place where they can build a sense of professional and personal community and share their talents with the rest of the school.
“As someone who was really involved in arts programs in high school, I know what it can be like for programs that lose funding and don’t have a working budget,” Kleinwaks said. “I think it really hinders the education and experience of students, so I’m happy that I’m able to give to a part of student life that can often be overlooked.”
FGCU notes that music majors aren’t even a big part of the band.
“Around 80 percent of the [music program] members are non-music majors, and these students are a very important part of the organizations,” the university’s website states.
On the FDU Metro campus, there are other artistic organizations like the University Players that are evidence that there is an interest in the arts, even on a campus that offers few choices in artistic majors. The University Players recently put on a production of Charles’ Dickens “A Christmas Carol” with a cast that numbered more than 20.
FDU can match the passion for and commitment to the arts that its student body shows without spending much money. For example, FGCU meets their students’ demand for a full extracurricular and academic music program with just 15 staff members.
A study at Northwestern University showed that older adults who took music lessons as children could process speech faster than those who didn’t, even if they hadn’t played in a long time.
Harvard President Drew Faust also touted the benefits of a music education in college.
“The ability to innovate—a skill that nine of out ten employers agree is the most important for new hires—requires thinking beyond immediate needs and making creative leaps,” Faust wrote in Harvard Magazine. “Where better to model this approach than in the arts and humanities?”
From Harvard to Madison, the arguments for the arts are everywhere. Metro students have written stories and letters to the editor in The Equinox about a lack of a feeling of community on campus and a need to give commuters reasons to stay on campus, and a music program can help both of those issues.
Florham students endorse their music program, and FGCU is enjoying the benefits that its music program offers. It’s time the Metropolitan campus got its own