With Fordham’s recent announcement that the London Dramatic Academy (LDA) will be closing after the Spring 2020 semester, Fordham students who counted on attending the beloved program have been left out in the cold. While the university has announced that it is working toward finding alternate options for theatre majors, many students feel disheartened by what they consider to be a massive educational loss — and Fordham’s failure to reckon with it in full.
The decision to close the LDA program has heavily impacted study abroad decisions and created difficulties for Fordham students, especially theatre majors. The rotation of theatre classes at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses puts some students in the difficult position of struggling to fulfill requirements. Samantha Rizzo, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’22, remarked, “I didn’t take theatre history this semester and now I have to wait a year and a half because it operates on a rotating schedule. A bunch of kids are held back in that aspect. Now I’m getting screwed over that I might not be able to finish all my classes in time.”
Also as a result of the closure of the LDA, many theatre minors and students interested in pursuing theatre are denied the experience of exclusive, higher-level classes, such as conservatory training, not offered to minors at FCLC. Some students even explicitly joined the theatre program at Lincoln Center with the expectation of attending the LDA; now, that opportunity is lost.
The esteemed program will be sorely missed, and those left bereft by this change will struggle in its absence — but ultimately, the necessity of the LDA’s closure is not ours to criticize. Without being privy to the same information as the administrators responsible, we cannot pass judgment on that choice. However, it is clear that regardless of the wisdom of that decision, the execution was fatally flawed.
Seemingly made without consulting students, or considering the chaos into which this would throw so many theatre students’ plans and hopes for their time at Fordham, this decision will no doubt have ramifications far beyond just opening up extra classroom space. Without the LDA, many students are left with nothing but significantly limited course options, uncertain alternatives and a loss of purpose. Fordham’s follow-through for the students affected was almost nonexistent, leading many to feel overlooked and ignored, with no consideration for how they would have to scramble to adjust without the chance to attend the LDA. It is one thing to eliminate a program, but to almost completely disregard how students would have to adapt is easy to see as callous.
Instead of letting otherwise necessary changes destabilize students’ already precarious plans, Fordham should ensure that these disruptions don’t become insurmountable obstacles. Instead of leaving students with surprise announcements and vague assurances, they should have a concrete, dependable path forward before any bridges are burned. Instead of relying on us to pick up the pieces in the wake of unexpected administrative decisions, they should guarantee a smooth transition to the new system by committing to help students adapt.
Students and their futures should always be a priority for universities that hope to nurture the next generation of young leaders. It is not hard to imagine a system that puts students’ needs first — a system that, at minimum, follows every big decision like this with reassurance that those affected will be given a chance to adjust, with Fordham’s full support. Offering unlucky students a leg up will always pay better dividends than leaving them to break a leg on their own.