Campus Reform | Socialists at prestigious Juilliard School protest tuition hike

Socialists at prestigious Juilliard School protest tuition hike

The Juilliard School is facing protests in light of its plan to raise tuition by nearly $2,000 for 2021-22 academic year.

A student group called The Socialist Penguins protested earlier this month in connection with the planned tuition increase.

The Socialist Penguins, a student group at The Juilliard School, is leading protests and a petition campaign to stop the school from raising tuition by $1,965 for the fall 2021 semester. 

Juilliard, one of the nation's most prestigious conservatories for aspiring musicians, actors, and dancers, currently has a sticker price of $49,260 per year. That number would go up to $51,230 next semester.

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The New York Times cites student activists who claim around one-third of the student body has signed a petition calling for a tuition freeze.

The petition asserts that Juilliard's tuition increase "displays a blatant disregard for the well-being and financial security of students," and that it "flies in the face of Juilliard's stated commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging." 

In early June, the Socialist Penguins led a sit-in on the second floor of the school's main building. On June 9, after several days of occupation, the group alleged that a campus security officer tried to lock protesters in the hallway where the protest was staged.

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The Socialist Penguins say that students who were identified as part of the protest were later denied entry back into the building, leading them to miss out on classes and rehearsals. The Juilliard School did not respond to a request for comment. 

On June 10, the Socialist Penguins gathered outside the entrance to the school with posters, music, and chalk to call for a cancellation of the planned tuition increase.

Some of the anger over the tuition hike stems from the pandemic-related move to remote learning, which meant that future performing arts professionals could not perform together. The petition says, "Students were required to pay more for a year of education that was substantially diminished by the realities of dealing with Covid-19."

Juilliard says its financial aid program provides "institutional scholarship support" to 85% of students. Data in the College Scorecard, a federal repository of college costs and future earnings, bears this out. The average annual cost to attend Juilliard is $29,511 after financial is applied.

Still, that cost is steep for people who are planning careers in the arts. A year after graduation, most Juilliard alumi can expect to make under $33,993 - barely more than the average annual cost of their education.

 Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito