I have two very different rants to make. One is about being poor, and one is about being a musician – I promise they’re not related. They’re only minimally researched and are mostly based on my immediate thoughts, so take them as you will.
On being poor: as of today, I owe $66,738 in loans taken out to pay for Wooster. I know I’m a minority in this extreme debt and that it’s my choice by attending this school, but that doesn’t lessen its effect.
I bring it up because two weeks ago the Voice wrote on the increased tuition for next year. I won’t pretend to know the intricacies of these budget processes. Salaries are obviously huge, and I think our professors earn what they make while our hourly wage workers do not get fair compensation. I appreciate the cost of necessary building maintenance, having worked as a Service Center employee last summer. I get it — the school is expensive.
I still can’t help but feel that our money is misdirected. As a student, measures like the sustainable budget process seem to have sacrificed amenities for no noticeable benefits. It’s increasingly harder to justify annual $16,000 loans when our increased charge isn’t reciprocated by improvements for students — in fact, our direct benefits are often cut (e.g. WAC’s administrative funding last year).
This is, of course, exacerbated by unhelpful statements like, “salary & benefits are 65 percent of the operating budget for fiscal year 2015,” according to the Strategic Planning @ Wooster page on Scot Blogs. This fails to answer important questions: what of that provides healthcare for wage workers? What part of that comprises administrative bonuses? If the school continues to raise tuition, then vagueness in budget allocation is unacceptable for students who directly suffer the consequences. Wooster needs more transparency, period.
On music: it’s so rad. There’s SO MUCH of it and it’s so interesting. Some of my favorite Wooster memories have been related to music, whether it was playing/seeing a show in a campus house or performing with the Wooster Chorus. So, for the sake of music, I have a few requests:
1) Listen to genres you know nothing about. Don’t know what jazz actually sounds like? Listen to Kamasi Washington. Think pop is vapid? Try Janelle Monáe. Listen to music with screaming — maybe the words are actually the most poetic you’ll ever encounter (Pianos Become the Teeth). Can’t quite get into country? Try bluegrass first — it might be a good stepping-stone.
2) Buy music. Please. Musicians have been commodified and can’t subsist on whether you think we sound good. Buy albums, go to shows, buy t-shirts.
3) Classical music is very much alive. You would never think a book written in 1800 is representative of literature, so don’t act like music written two centuries ago is representative of art music. Listen to eighth blackbird, John Corigliano, or Wooster’s own Jack Gallagher. Feeling adventurous? Try Donnacha Dennehy or Kaija Saariaho.
Wooster is a weird, amazing place. I’ve met incredible people, learned fascinating stuff and done some wild shit. Have fun, nerds.
James May, a Chief Copy Editor for the Voice, can be reached for comment at JMay16@wooster.edu.