Last Tuesday night, I headed over to Spot Coffee to attend the River Campus’ weekly Pride Network meeting. On the way, I ran into a friend who asked me where I was going. When I told him, he said, “Oh, can I come? I have always wanted to see River Campus people.” I immediately responded, “They’re not like unicorns or anything,” but for many Eastman students, seeing a River Campus student happens almost as rarely as seeing a unicorn.
In last week’s CT, an editorial suggested that perhaps Eastman housing could be opened up to River Campus students. The concept was a marvelous idea but only scratched the surface of a greater problem at hand — the divide that exists between the Eastman School of Music and the River Campus.
For all practical purposes, Eastman and the River Campus are two completely separate institutions. The application process is different for each university. Not to mention that there are separate housing and dining facilities, separate deans and registrars, separate yearbooks and even separate student governments. Were it not for the few brave souls from each campus that make the trek via the 72 bus for classes and activities, the two student bodies would likely never mix.
Perhaps paramount in the mission of the Eastman School is training musicians who can become valuable members of not only the music world but also society as a whole.
While no one would question that the school does a wonderful job in creating professional musicians, one must wonder if some of these graduates will lack the skills to interact with non-musicians. After all, society’s diversity is not represented by the different instruments that individuals play, nor can all people be divided up into instrumentalist, vocalists and musicologists.
While no one could argue that all musicians have the same personality, there is a common interest that bonds us together. However, there are also ties binding each of us to non-musicians and finding those is equally as important as mastering one’s instrument.
The author’s suggestion to allow River Campus and Eastman students to live among each other would be the first step to making the two campuses more united.
Currently, Eastman students are required — with few exceptions — to live in the Student Living Center until the end of their junior year. If students were given the option of moving off campus after sophomore year, like River Campus students are, this would free up a large number of rooms that could be used by older River Campus students desiring to live downtown. Conversely, Eastman students wishing to experience a more typical college life would be able to move to the River Campus.
The social benefits are indisputable. Greater diversity would be achieved at both campuses. For Eastman students, there would be a greater numbers of organizations in which they could participate. As last week’s author pointed out, for those River Campus students that are of age, living downtown would offer easier access to the many entertainment offerings of downtown Rochester.
The suggestion, however, is not without its downfall. For students solely pursuing their degree at Eastman, having to travel nearly three miles from the River Campus to get to theory class at 8:35 a.m. would not be very convenient, especially with the current bus schedule in place. The same would hold true for River Campus students making the opposite trek.
Additionally, one could argue that the total immersion in music is a key part of conservatories such as Eastman. If a student wanted to experience more assimilation, they would have chosen to attend a university with a music program, such as Indiana or even UR itself.
Whatever the case may be, a stronger effort needs to be made to help bring the campuses more together. Encouraging students to live at the opposite campus could be the first step. At the very least, it would certainly ensure that seeing a River Campus student at Eastman would no longer be comparable to seeing a unicorn.
Haynes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.