Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music

School or Department




Faculty Mentor Department


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Holly Riley


student advocacy, budget cuts, music, music school, school of music, music building

Subject Categories

Art Education | Arts and Humanities | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration | Music | Other Music


Increasing instability in higher education funding (Thomas, 2021) has directly impacted the University of Montana music program but has also indirectly changed the role of music students to such an extent that I now often say, “every artist is an advocate.” In 2018, the University of Montana School of Music experienced significant threats from budget cuts, and in the years following, attempts to earn legislative funding for capital development failed. Faced with these budget cuts and other lack of funding, music students had to advocate for themselves and employ community and institutional support to maintain the strength of their program. Due to this heightened organizing and advocacy from music students, proposed budget cuts were significantly reduced, and some authority funding was still received from our legislature. In this paper, I describe how I leaned into policy and grassroots organizing of music students as a student body Senator and the Student Music Union President to advocate for these efforts, and I evaluate how these efforts highlight future challenges for music students and their advocacy. I use autoethnographic research methods (Ellis, 2011) to reflect on these events and to highlight how the personal impacts of these events motivated my research on common themes surrounding music advocacy. The project demonstrates both the bounds and capabilities of student advocacy while indicating themes of financial instability across music schools, lending to the concept that "every artist is an advocate".

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




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