Realignment made at cost of scholarship opportunities

Scholarships will apply to students in the Los Angeles study away program.

The film and media arts department will create five new scholarships for students applying to the Los Angeles study away program during the spring semester.

The new $1,000 scholarships will ease any uncertainty about the number of scholarships available for students within the film and media arts department, a confusion for some caused by the realignment of the former School of Communications and Theater, said Nora Alter, film and media arts department chair.

“It didn’t occur to anyone that the scholarships would be affected,” said senior film and arts major John Sabbatelli.

The Board of Trustees approved the formation of the Center for the Arts and the School of Media and Communication this summer. With the alignment, only SMC students qualify for all former SCT scholarships. The only scholarship that is still available for FMA and theater students is the Shackleton scholarship, according to the SMC website.

Sabbatelli waited until his senior year to participate in the Los Angeles program — in order to gain enough knowledge and experience — while planning to apply for the Lew Klein scholarship during the fall of this year, he said. However, the scholarship was restricted to SMC students by the time he tried to apply. He would have been eligible five months ago, he said.

Like Sabbatelli, senior film and media arts major Christine Boegemann encountered similar difficulties.

“The alignment affected my pursuits because it rendered me ineligible for some of the greatest scholarship opportunities that just one year ago were available to me,” Boegemann said. “I would like for the administration to recognize the imbalance it has carried out by favoring SMC majors over theater and FMA majors in its decisions to exclude them from these opportunities to fund their education.”

Boegemann said that, from her personal experience and those of her peers, the administration never asked them how they feel about being a part of the Center for the Arts during the alignment process.

FMA faculty members said that the scholarship issue is part of the transition phase toward the consolidation of the Center for the Arts.  For now, a dialogue between the department administration and students is ongoing.

“The chair of the department has been very responsive to this issue,” FMA assistant professor Allan Barber said. “We are trying to establish scholarships for FMA students to replace the scholarships these students could have applied for when we were [in the] School of Communications and Theater.”

The department is also looking into developing new scholarships to help students pay for other study away programs, like Japan and London, Alter said.

While certain major areas of change have yet to be examined by the schools within the Center for the Arts, some believe the alignment is favorable.

“There is positive energy emerging as a result of this change,” Barber said. “For example, there is a lot of synergy coming from [Tyler School of Art] students taking courses over here.”

The criteria and application deadlines for the new scholarships are soon to be released by the department.

Laura Ordonez can be reached at

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