Dear Chancellor: Improve the FAC

By Liana Ascolese

(Juliette Sandleitner/Daily Collegian)
(Juliette Sandleitner/Daily Collegian)

Dear Chancellor Subbaswamy,

On this beautiful fall day, I saw a familiar sight on campus: a group of prospective families touring the University of Massachusetts. If you were leading this tour, where would you take them? You would probably lead them to the state of the art Integrated Sciences Building, the brand new Blue Wall or the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community. But would you take them inside the Fine Arts Center?

Although I am not a Music major, I have participated in the University Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, chamber ensembles and the bassoon studio. I am also a proud sister of Sigma Alpha Iota, a women’s fraternity dedicated to community service through music. I chose to attend this University because of the kindness and sense of community, which I immediately felt from both students and faculty in the music department. Their dedication and sheer amount of talent only further confirmed that I had made the right decision. Over the past five years, the performing arts here have expanded and improved immensely, and UMass’ program is growing in prestige.

Unfortunately, all of this success is taking place in a building that is in deplorable condition. Students spend valuable time roaming the halls, waiting for practice rooms to open up, and I have seen the most dedicated performers relegated to practicing in stairwells due to lack of space.

Cockroaches crawl among our feet during large ensemble rehearsals. About once a week, the plumbing in the building malfunctions and anyone who walks into the FAC is greeted by the potent smell of sewage. The building also has no windows or ventilation. A day in the FAC is a day without sunlight or fresh air, a fate that hundreds of students are faced with each day, as this is the building in which performing arts majors attend classes. Anyone in the department would be able to quickly add to this list, saying that the problems I have mentioned are just scratching the surface.

As a Political Science major, I am infinitely grateful for the new facilities at this University. Though I do still spend a significant amount of time in the FAC, I am one of the lucky ones, as my day can be broken up by new buildings and fresh air. But for performing arts majors, and music lovers like myself, our hearts and souls are in our practicing, and the FAC is a necessary evil we face day after day as we strive for success.

I know the University is proud of our performing arts department; when the marching band steps out onto the field, or when the orchestra takes the stage in Symphony Hall to celebrate 150 years of UMass, we hear the pride in your voice. You have a vision for UMass, and aiding our program should be a part of that. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Liana Ascolese can be reached at [email protected]