The student-lead organization savecornellarts.com is very serious about bringing Cornell students together — so serious, in fact, that last Wednesday they even brought free wheeling break dancers to perform in front of a class of typically-reserved business students.The symbolically incongruous pairing was just one of a myriad of tactics savecornellarts.com plans to use to pressure the University into easing the severity and scope of budget cuts to the theater and arts departments.President of the club Rockwell Shah ’10 said that the Absolute Zero’s “flash performance” before Prof. Pedro Perez’s Introduction to Business Management was the first of several professor-sanctioned “class-room invasions.”The group — which consists of nearly 20 organizers — hopes to make plenty of noise “before the budget gets to Dean Lepage,” according to Shah.To that end, they have begun “quarter-carding,” a “letter and phone campaign,” and launching visible protests — including an “art installation” Shah predicts “will be difficult to ignore.”They’ve also had Cornell Mind and Matters present a letter to Dean Lepage detailing the negative effects that the Arts budget cuts will have on student health, according to Shah.An economics major himself, Shah emphasized that savecornellarts.com was not an exclusively arts-student (or even student) movement, calling the effort “community-wide.”He referenced a letter Richard Kopf, a Professor of Mycology, sent to President Skorton. Kopf asserted that the cuts amounted to “effectively gutting the artistic output of our university.”Shah also said that alumni have been heavily involved in savecornellarts.com’s efforts.Anson Lin ‘10, President of Absolute Zero, said that his group joined with savecornellarts last Wednesday to “promote [an] understanding of arts on campus.”While admitting that his organization would not be directly impacted by the changes of funds, Lin said that the cuts “indirectly affects us” because of how “closely related” all the arts programs are.The students who made it to class that day (in good humor, Shah speculated that only 100 students out of an expected 500 showed up that day) were generally impressed by the performance.“It was pretty cool [and] pretty effective,” James Gippetti ’12 said. He said that he had “not been aware” of the discontent about the budget cuts before he went to business management that day.Stephen Wu ’12 also felt that “[the performance] was interesting,” but seemed to think it oversimplified matters. “I feel like something has to be cut, and I disagree with cutting the arts … but in tough times [one has] to make a decision,” Wu said.Professor Perez declined comment as to why he let the performance occur.Shah said that this week they have a “flash performance” planned for Professor Cynthia Hazan’s Human Bonding class.
Original Author: Jeff Stein