Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author(s).
Maggie Axford is president of Boston University’s Edge Dance Company.
I knew being president of a dance organization in the middle of a pandemic would be difficult, but I didn’t think it would be impossible. Dancing can easily be spaced apart and done basically anywhere. But most of all, I couldn’t fathom my senior year without it.
Unfortunately, Boston University did not feel the same way I did.
BU canceled all possible bookings of dance spaces for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. All performance spaces have been canceled as well. Without practice space — even socially distanced and at limited capacity — BU has made it clear it doesn’t support dance groups meeting.
This leaves people like me, leaders of dance organizations, scrambling to devise a plan to keep our groups alive. Do we use outdoor spaces? Do we attempt Zoom rehearsals? We had to ask ourselves these questions.
My group, Edge Dance Company, has been BU’s leading jazz and contemporary dance group since 2001. The team is made up of 15–25 students who audition and commit a few days a week to the group.
Our members are from different backgrounds, but what they have in common is a love for dance. Edge isn’t the only dance organization on campus: hundreds of BU students are involved in more than 20 registered groups.
As dancers, we are so passionate about our art because it’s something we love, but we also know just how valuable it can be for a stressed-out college student.
College is hard enough, but being a college student during a global pandemic is even harder. This is why I feel arts and extracurriculars are so important. They help students take a step away from the academic stress in their lives, and there has never been a more necessary time for stress relief than during a global pandemic.
If universities continue to disregard student-run organizations and arts groups, students will be left without a support system and will fall through the cracks, possibly disbanding their groups altogether.
Unlike sports teams, student-run organizations don’t have an entire student body rallying behind them or a national league to keep them afloat. If a student-run organization, such as Edge, stops practicing, there is no one to save them. The organization will cease to exist. It is so important to push for assistance from BU, especially for dance groups.
It is obvious there are more important issues BU is facing in this COVID-19 era: student safety, proper testing, housing and more. However, I feel it is imperative BU dedicates some of its efforts to maintaining the student organizations on campus.
I challenge BU and universities across the country to think about the students who dedicate their free time to the arts.
Think about the student organization members who spend valuable energy fighting to keep what they are passionate about alive. Think about the stressed-out student who needs relief from their daily academic life. Lastly, think about the dance groups and student-run organizations on campus who desperately need support to stay afloat.