Written by

Zeina Abou Haidar

Arts + CultureNewsPolitics

University Players Seizes Operation: UWindsor Budget Cuts Affect Student’s Experiential Learning

Published On: Tue, Jul 9th, 2024, 9:05PMLast Updated: Wed, Jul 10th, 2024, 12:11AM2.8 min read
By Published On: Tue, Jul 9th, 2024, 9:05PMLast Updated: Wed, Jul 10th, 2024, 12:11AM2.8 min read

University of Windsor Dramatic Art students were blindsided by the announcement that the university would cease operations of University Players (UP), an arm of the Dramatic Arts department. 

UWindsor President Robert Gordan sent an email on June 18 to the campus community, attributing the cuts to the university’s budget realignment plans. 

The University of Windsor is restructuring two campus service areas as part of a multi-year strategy to balance its base budget.”  

The University Players was one of two service areas cut, along with the EPICentre; 10 positions were cut. 

Rachel Pitre, an undergraduate student in the Drama and Education program, said the announcement came as a complete surprise: ” We had no idea; we were blindsided.”  

University Players provided students with practical experience. It created a platform for them to apply theory to practice.  “A lot of students were not only learning experientially through University Players but also being paid to do work there.” 

Leila Laba, an undergraduate student in the Acting program, says they were preparing for next season, and she had begun character development for her new role. 

Laba said when she first read the email, she was in denial and could not exactly understand what was happening. “I’ve been learning my lines, going through it, doing all of my character work, so it just felt like I’ve been doing all this work for nothing. It felt disappointing and unfair in a way.”  

Students are expressing concerns toward whether they could graduate on time without fulfilling required credits for participating in the University Players shows. 

Pitre and Laba are concerned their education timeline may be impacted. “A lot of students are very concerned about being able to graduate, about having the proper amounts of credits because students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Acting program needed those credits to graduate.” 

The University Players was in operation for 65 years, and it had marked its stamp on the art scene in Windsor. 

Leslie Hernandez, a UWindsor Alumnus from the Chemistry program, a previous subscription holder for the UP’ s, and a former employee with UP, she shared concerns regarding students interested in the arts. Hernandez says students will not choose to come to UWindsor without University Players.  

She says, “overall I think that the community of Windsor will lose its role in the arts institution in Canada, and it will really affect the other arts communities in Windsor as well.” 

In her email to the University of Windsor Hernandez wrote: “I am baffled. I am angered. I am saddened for the students most of all. This is incredibly unfair to them and to the arts community of Windsor-Essex. What an incredibly disappointing area to make budget cuts in.” 

A petition is circulating stemming from feelings anger and disappointment from the theatre community with this decision and demanding clarity, explanations, and alternatives.  

Pitre says drama students are staying strong and have faith in their departments to help find solutions. “I am placing my utmost and complete confidence in our director who will be able to sort these things out. Even though not fully to the extent of what we had with University Players because University Players is truly irreplaceable, but we received an email last week saying that programs are being redesigned reinvigorated, there will still be opportunities for experiential learning.” 

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About Zeina Abou Haidar

I am an international student from Lebanon, going into my third year in the Communication, Media, and Film program at UWindsor. I have always loved writing and photography, but I have recently unlocked a new passion for content creation and filmmaking.