Students and professors at Harrisburg Area Community College recently discovered that the college will be cutting valuable arts programs from the curriculum. Strategically, as enrollment for the next semester opened, programs including ceramics, screen-printing, printmaking, and glass quietly disappeared from the catalog.
In hindsight, one thing seems truly telling: a couple years ago, HACC ceased advertising for their arts programs.
Community colleges, like HACC, were erected with great purpose: to give access and opportunity to all. Underprivileged students and students of color who otherwise cannot afford to pursue higher education at a four year institution, students unsure of their path seeking opportunities to be curious and creative, and adult students with tricky schedules and families are a large makeup of HACC’s student body.
While it is true and necessary that HACC offers quality trade and workforce driven programs, numerous courses and programs that transfer to four year colleges, it is unacceptable for the institution to strip such a diverse arts program that serves those demographics. By doing so, HACC perpetuates the struggle of access and agency historically denied to underprivileged people.
Frankly, this is exhausting and sad. And I am not in the business of explaining privilege and the value of the arts to the largest community college in Pennsylvania.
I do, however, always believe in the power of people’s stories.
Above is an image of Morgan, who my close friends and I lovingly deemed the “Friend-tern” in the summer of 2016. (Friend-tern [noun]: an intern who wins your heart and becomes a fast friend.)
Two years ago, after finishing photography and glass at HACC, Morgan was accepted to Tyler School of Art at Temple and has since been working exclusively with glass. She also plans on pursuing her MFA and eventually returning to the Harrisburg area to pursue a career as a maker and teacher of glass.
Morgan was devastated by the news.
“That one small decision to step into [the glass] studio [at HACC] entirely changed the course of my life.
Glass is a medium that extends far past its materiality and process. I am constantly learning from the material everyday. It has taught me invaluable lessons about community and perseverance. It consistently challenges me to be a better maker and person. It was in that studio that I found my home.”
I took this image at a happier time: Morgan feeling the warmth of the new sunrise on her face. The reflection in the water like glass. Her first road trip with me. Her first time this far away from home. Her first time on a sailboat. Portland, ME. July, 2016.
Please consider signing the student petition below and share your personal stories about HACC Arts with the hashtag #saveHACCarts.