Even with much opposition to the decision to not fill the drama coordinator position, it was made clear on Thursday’s town hall meeting that the decision is set in stone.
After it was stressed that low enrollment was the biggest problem for next year, fourth-year student Julia Cann said during the question period that students are drawn to St. Thomas because of Theatre St. Thomas.
“Being a tour ambassador at St. Thomas myself, I have encountered many potential students who are interested in St. Thomas because of the reputation of TST,” she said. “TST has benefited enrollment over the years and helped attract students interested in theatre.”
Student Union president Elizabeth Murphy also said how TST effects enrollment, and not just for drama students.
President of TST Nicole Vair agreed. She is a journalism and communications student who has been involved with TST for her whole university career.
“I recently talked to individuals who have graduated from St. Thomas and have been effected by being apart of TST and not necessarily working in theatre. One is a policy analyst for the government of Canada, another is a teacher and the third one is a reporter for CBC national in Toronto. So, it really does affect people from all platforms of this university.”
President Dawn Russell bolted up out of her chair after the three spoke and expressed her concern over the difficult decision.
“Can I just say a few words? Because you can count me among those alumni. I was on the executive of the original group that built Theatre St. Thomas. We spent our lives outside the classroom there. We had a major production every term.”
She said funding for drama has always been a problem.
“It was an issue even when I was a student. We do understand the desire of students that are not in drama or theatre to have the opportunity to do drama through Theatre St. Thomas.”
Russell expressed her concern, but made it clear she would not be changing her mind.
“Although we have made the difficult decision not to replace Ilkay Silk, we are looking at other arrangements … I am hopeful that perhaps things will come around for that position as well. If not, we will think of ways to help. We are thinking about it. And one of those things to do is fundraising.
“If a fraction of the alumni who say what drama meant to them what it meant to me or what it meant to you – if a fraction of them gave 20 or 30 dollars a year, I could tell you that would really help,” said Russell.
Earlier in the week, Ilkay Silk, the current drama coordinator who is retiring, said she met with President Russell but nothing was decided.
“I think it is still a work in progress. My meeting with [Russell] was very cordial and I was permitted to express my concerns,” she wrote in an email.
The day after the town meeting, Silk said she was still unsure about what was going to happen.
“I still don’t know quite how it is going to happen, but it does seem final.”
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