Joseph van Leeuwen 0

An Open Letter From NEC's Students To Administration

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Dear President Kalyn and administration of New England Conservatory,

We understand that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent quarantine have been devastating to NEC. We will stand strong as a community to get through this and recover together. In addition, we applaud the administration’s decision to issue a refund of 40% of room and board fees to students who were suddenly evicted from the dorms. This is a step in the right direction. However, we also face these unanswered questions:

  1. What will be done for the hundreds of students who have suddenly lost our on-campus jobs, for many of whom it is their only source of income?
  2. How will NEC make up the significant loss of quality of education due to the cancellation of in-person classes, lessons, performances and ensembles?
  3. What will be done for the graduating students who have had our final recitals cancelled, and are not returning in the fall?

In the days following the sudden closure of schools across the country, it's understandable that administration may not have the answers to all of this right away. We offer these considerations and suggestions:

  1. While some of us are lucky enough to be able to stay with family, many others, especially graduate students and foreign students who are unable to return home, rely on our campus jobs to pay for our basic needs. Student workers need an emergency aid process that is transparent, and to know what expenses the school is willing to help with, to ensure a fair distribution of aid.
  2. The quality of our education has been significantly reduced by the closure of on-campus activities.
    1. Video lessons often provide poor-quality audio and latency issues which make it difficult to hear nuanced performance details and impossible for teacher and student to play duets or for students to bring ensembles into their lessons.
    2. Similarly, the Seminar In Performance and many other core classes require live performances which are difficult to duplicate effectively with digital methods. This goes for masterclasses/clinics as well, and all of these will suffer from lack of tactile feedback from instructors.
    3. The cancellation of all ensembles completely removes all possibility for students to interact with each other directly. Music making is an intensely social act and live feedback from other musicians is paramount in every style.
    4. Suspending all performances takes away our opportunity not only to test our abilities in the limelight, but also to gain the exposure of our great performances being seen and heard on world-class stages and the help of NEC’s promotional services.
    5. At $24,790 per semester plus fees, NEC’s tuition is among the highest in the nation. We deserve some kind of compensation for the education we are not receiving, whether it is a partial refund, the opportunity to make up classes and ensembles at a later time, or a possible technological solution in which the school would provide equipment to students who need it.
  3. Arrangements must be made for graduating students to have a proper final recital and graduation ceremony with due respect paid to our achievement. As a large population of our students have left Boston, this will need to be further developed in collaboration between the students and NEC, but simply cancelling final recitals and graduation ceremonies would not be acceptable.

We know that the administration of NEC is working hard on this and we are willing and able to work together at finding solutions that work for students, staff, faculty, and the sustainable continuation of the conservatory itself. We will assist with efforts to deal with this unprecedented situation and be active members of the recovery process. We commit to stand as one and work together as a community to move forward together.

With Love and Pride,

-The Students of New England Conservatory

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