I love CMC. I love the professors, I love the classes, and I love the people. But today, I won’t write to sing the praises of the institution for which my parents pay over $60,000 a year.
I’m a guitar player. Before arriving at CMC, I played hours every day, gigged regularly, was part of a band, and used music as a creative form of expression that balanced out a busy academic life. It’s a part of who I am.
I have never felt so creatively stifled as I have at CMC. A school that sent me a brochure with a guitar player on it can do better than simply tell students that art is not a priority for CMC and that music rooms can be accessed at other colleges, as President Gann did last year. The truth is that resources at other colleges are not easily accessible to CMCers. Every year, some poor freshman takes up the fight for some sort of a musical rehearsal space before bureaucracy crushes them and they give up. This year, unfortunately, that has happened to me.
And it’s happened to others. Musicians aren’t rare at CMC.
On my floor alone, I can count that at least half of our residents play some sort of instrument. Despite this, we’re the only college I’ve ever seen that has fewer resources devoted to the arts than my kindergarten class, which at least had a box of crayons and construction paper. When a significant portion of the student body practices one or more of the arts, a school that would like to consider itself one of the best in the nation has some obligation to provide for students. It doesn’t make us unique among the 5Cs to be the only one without some sort of art space. It makes us pathetic.
There’s a lot more to it than just allowing us to make noise. The school has reportedly spent the last several years attempting to stifle the drinking culture at CMC. An aggressive push against CMC’s alcohol culture is bound to be met with fierce opposition, because, like citizens of some Scandinavian country, many students like to get out of class, get drunk, and spend the weekend in a haze. But despite DOS’s best efforts, attempts at creating dry events have not nearly been good enough. Creating artistic spaces would provide students not only with something to do on campus, but it would also eventually create a music scene that would provide entertainment for parties and campus events.
Every time I have spoken with people about this, I’m always given the same responses. “It can’t be done,” or, “There isn’t any room on campus.” Meanwhile, there are empty offices spaces right between Parent’s Field and the Bauer Center. ASCMC had an empty space at the start of the year as well. With construction commencing on a $50 million dollar athletic complex, (and offices moving to the vacant portables) those are no longer options. What bothers me, however, is that they were. Pitzer found a room underneath their dining hall, next to garbage cans. That would be fine with me. Somewhere, somehow, room can be made.
Another issue would most obviously be cost. With a drum kit, PA system and amplifiers, a room could be outfitted for less than five thousand dollars, which is an absolute joke of a sum, and pales in comparison to the amount spent on athletics each year.
The CMC Campus Master Plan does include a student center that will hopefully have musical facilities, but it simply isn’t happening soon enough. While I’m sure that my kid will one day enjoy attending the opening for the facility during their senior year, you’ll have to excuse me if I want something a little more timely. When CMC’s Jam Society was formed earlier this year, it had an initial membership count that easily numbered in the forties. The club died because it had nowhere to go. Forty students started that club, which I daresay is a sizeable number, and had it succeeded, I’m sure there would have been more. The youngest of them will graduate in 2016, and they deserve better than empty promises about what will come to pass a decade into the future.