Students protest program cuts

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)- Some Eastern Kentucky University students took a unique approach some would say ‘dark’ to show state lawmakers in Frankfort they’re not happy with higher education cuts that led to program cuts at their school.

Jocelyn Skinner says theater has been a part of her life since the beginning.

“I was born into a performing arts family. My mom owned a dance studio and my first show was when I was three or four,” said Skinner.

Since then Skinner, a Maryland native, says her love for theater has only grown.

So last year when she started looking at colleges, Skinner knew where she needed to go.

“There is no theater education major in Maryland higher education. So I knew I had to go out of state. And when someone recommended this school to me, I was like 8 hours away, why would I want to do that? But I visited and I fell in love with the campus and the feel of it,” said Skinner.

Now one year into EKUs theater program, Skinner says she’s even more in love.

“It really is a home. It’s a family. It’s not just a bunch of people doing a show together. It’s people who genuinely care about each other,” said Skinner.

But earlier this month that home came crashing down.

“I just started crying,” said Skinner.

Crying because she heard the news that the university decided to cut EKU’s theater program as a part of a campus-wide budget cut brought on by a cut in funding from the state.

“Heartbroken is my only word for it because I fell so in love, not just with the program but with this school itself,” said Skinner.

That heartbreak lead Skinner and her fellow students to hold a symbolic funeral inside the capitol rotunda.

“We decided that we wanted to have a funeral for higher education and we are doing it here, number one to have our voices heard but also to lay higher education to rest where she was killed,” said Logan Burris, a student at EKU.

“I hope that the people who are making these decisions realize who their hurting and what the impact is of their decisions,” said Skinner.

An impact Skinner says has hit her especially hard.

“Right now it is very up in the air. I know I am transferring back home to Maryland. I don’t know if I am going to stay another year at EKU or if it’s going to be next year,” said Skinner.

While she knows her theater education will continue at another school, Skinner says she’s worried her heart will still be here at EKU.

“I can’t get this feel anywhere. This is a home. This is a family. A lot of bigger universities don’t have that as much. But this, I can tell I’m not going to get this experience anywhere else,” said Skinner.

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