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Here’s how you can help McNally Smith students and faculty

McNally Smith College of Music on Dec. 15, 2017. (Jay Gabler/MPR)

On Dec. 14, McNally Smith College of Music announced that it would shut down the next week due to lack of funds, and as of Dec. 20, the school is officially closed. Since the announcement, community members near and far have wondered how they can help affected students, staff, and faculty, many of whom have presently found themselves in financial, occupational, and/or academic jeopardy.

From staff and students alike, the prevailing suggestion is to fill out the McNally Smith College of Music Community Support Form, a hub for anyone seeking or offering help. On Facebook, McNally voice faculty member Maria Vejdani writes: “If you know of ways to help students, teachers, and staff find new schools and jobs please let us know via the form. […] If you teach at a college that is willing to work with our school to accept new students, let us know. If you have a platform, a voice, a connection…we need you.”

While immediate needs centered around food and moving boxes, Residence Hall Coordinator Col’Lette Gauvin says that students have received plenty of each at the residence halls. Because the majority were planning to spend for winter break, anyway, food needs are less pressing than they would have been otherwise.

However, according to Senior Director of Student Affairs Sue Brezny, “We are finding that the biggest need is with financial assistance, like helping students break leases or come up with rent or money to pay bills. Some need airfare or gas money.” Neither faculty members nor staff have been paid since before the school announced its closing, so finances are especially pressing for them, too.

If you can help ease costs for students or faculty, Brezny is willing to distribute donations to those in need. Her office phone number is 651-361-3420, but she’ll be more easily reachable at her cell: 651-295-9700.

According to Gauvin, most students moved out yesterday and today, while a few (including international students, who will certainly need professional assistance with their visas and legal status) will stay through the weekend. Although she has offered extensions, no one has taken her up on it; “People are just sad,” she says, and want to leave campus.

For those unable to return to a family home during break, Brezny says, “We have received numerous, generous offers for displaced students to stay with staff, faculty, in other college dorms, and kind citizens.”

Tonight, the Minnesota Music Cafe in Saint Paul hosts a musicians’ rally from 4 until close; attendance will benefit McNally students.

McNally alum Lauren Verhel has started a GoFundMe to support the school’s faculty. If you’re a former McNally student, staff member, or faculty member and you’ve organized a fundraising project or event, please link to it in the comments below.

A sign posted on a McNally Smith railing shares links where you can share or solicit support (Cecilia Johnson | MPR)