(Sudbury – May 19, 2020)
The Laurentian Senate will be debating the future of the theatre and motion picture arts programs today, Tuesday, May 19, at 2:30 pm. The Zoom link for the meeting, which is open to the public, is: https://laurentian.zoom.us/j/92280904631
On April 23, Thorneloe University, a federated university of Laurentian, had announced the shutdown of the fine arts programs catering primarily to Anglophone and Indigenous students.
Students, alumni, and faculty will be defending a motion that the cancellation of the programs was improper and that Laurentian should intervene to save them. At 4:30 pm, they will also be available for media interviews at a Zoom meeting. The link will be sent later today.
“First and foremost,” said Laurentian faculty association president Fabrice Colin, “we are concerned about the students, who have been left stranded by this disastrous decision.”
Rosie, a student in the Theatre program, testifies to the deep emotional pain and distress the closure has caused:
I used to walk with a bounce in my step. Despite everything that I’ve been through, my bounce was my way of saying that I was still happy. Then I got an email that my program had been closed. I wish I could say that my breath simply got shallow and my heart sank in my chest, but it was more than that – my bounce was gone. I don’t know how to explain the intense pain I feel now. I didn’t choose Sudbury, Sudbury chose me. I put everything on the line to go to this school in this program. I left my family, my nieces and nephews are growing up without me, but I began to learn amazing things. Sudbury became my home. I don’t want to have to choose something different when this school has an obligation to their students. I want my bounce back.
“This shutdown, if it is allowed to go through, contradicts the University’s strategic plan and Tricultural mission to support the arts in Northern Ontario,” said Colin.
There are over 50 full-time students in the programs, while hundreds of others (from faculties of Management, Health, etc.) need these courses as electives. The programs are run by two full-time professors as well as nine part-time instructors. From 2015 to 2019, 72 productions in Greater Sudbury contributed $105 million and 2,360 jobs to the local economy. In 2019, 343 productions across Ontario represented $3.2 billion and 56,050 jobs.
A petition was launched last week that calls upon Laurentian president Robert Haché and the Board of Governors to intervene to save the programs. It already had been signed by over 750 students, faculty, alumni, artists, and community members before the weekend.
The faculty association is a partner in a community campaign to save the programs.