PNW students crave more art opportunities

Many students wish PNW offered more opportunities for artistic expression.

Over the last decade, declining enrollment has led the university to cut back on the number of arts and
music classes and focus resources on core classes.

“Enrollment has declined over 40% in the last 10 years,” said Neil Nemeth, interim chair for the
Communication and Creative Arts Department. “We are focused on offering courses that are specifically
centered toward graduation.”

As a result, many students see the university concentrating more on science, technology, engineering and
math-related activities.

“I wanted to take a drawing class,” said Gracie Wassemann, a junior majoring in Psychology. “As a
student of the Westville campus, I was told there were no options for graphic design unless I went to
Hammond, over an hour away from me. … I don’t believe that there are adequate sources.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also took a toll on extracurricular arts and music programs. Apart from the
newly formed Fine Arts Club, options for students are limited.

“I know we have a Fine Arts Club, but that’s just one [option],” said Rachel Gnesevich, senior Visual
Communication Design major. “There aren’t events hosted often to allow students time to be creative and
learn new skills.”

Alayna Biro, a sophomore majoring in Behavioral Sciences agreed.

“I think having a student-led club is something PNW is doing right,” said Biro. “There could be more
outlets that are more accessible to students as well.”

Music at PNW has been challenged since Trish Hales, Music professor and leader of the school’s Vocal
Company, died in 2019.

“The Vocal Company was a choir group on campus. [Hales] passed away in the middle of the
semester and was never replaced,” said Summer Baxter, a senior Psychology major. “I
asked numerous people the following semesters if the choir would have someone to lead it and no one
ever got back to me.”

The group was briefly resurrected in 2021, but a faculty member hired to replace Hales quit just five days
before the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

The Communication department is still working to fill the role.

“In order to have a successful production, there needs to be a certain level of commitment,” said Nemeth.
“It’s a collaborative process.”

Some students want more recognition of what is available.

“I think more awareness is necessary,” said Luke Brunner, senior Communication major. “The most you
ever hear is maybe through an email blast that might as well be spam.”