Following weeks of complaints from students, Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) has decided to reinstate arts courses that had previously been cut from the fall course catalog.
HACC President John Sygielski announced in a statement this morning that five of the six classes that were cut from the department in March will return for the fall semester.
HACC announced on March 23 that it would not offer six of its art elective courses—two ceramics courses, three glassblowing courses and one introductory silkscreen printing course—in the fall semester. The announcement came three days before course registration opened.
Students immediately pushed back against the administrative decision. A petition calling for HACC to restore the courses had garnered more than 20,000 signatures by April 18. Written by a group of HACC students, the petition argues that HACC offers an affordable, high-quality arts education that’s unrivaled in the area.
Jennie Baar, dean of academic affairs at HACC, told TheBurg earlier this month that HACC administrators were holding meetings with students to discuss their concerns about the reduced course offerings. Apparently, they took those concerns to heart.
“We heard you, and we listened,” Sygielski said in his statement.
According to Baar, administrators initially cut the elective courses from the fall catalog with the intent of bringing them back in the future on a rotating schedule. They were flagged for removal after HACC switched to a new financial aid administration software, which alerted them to a number of courses that were not part of degree programs.
Under new federal financial aid guidelines, students may not pay for non-degree courses with federal aid dollars. As a result, HACC administrators decided to remove the arts electives, as well as some electives in other departments, to prevent the misapplication of financial aid.
However, Sygielski acknowledged in his statement that many students in the associates program in fine arts were willing to pay out of pocket for the classes.
These students told TheBurg that higher-level elective courses offer the opportunity to hone their skills and build portfolios for applications to four-year arts degree programs.
Today, they expressed relief at HACC’s decision to reinstate the courses.
“I’m glad we were able to work with the administration to get to a solution and bring back a majority of the art classes,” said HACC student Alexis Reisch, who wrote the petition defending the arts programming.