MELISSA CHICKER — News Writer
Students of Southern’s music department are in shock and outrage over the surprise announcement that Joanita McCarthy, music department secretary, is being asked to leave her position after six years to move to the sociology department as secretary. McCarthy, 77, has worked at Southern for 15 years.
“Joanita is like a second grandmother to many students in the music department. She knows the department like a professional chef knows exactly how much salt to put into a dish. She is not only someone to talk to about the music department but also about life,” said Sebastian Smith, a double major in music with a concentration in electronic music theory and composition and studio art and graphic design.
Many students in the department have also felt the same and were in tears, said Smith, as was McCarthy. There have been speculations about the move that have not yet been confirmed. The rumor most speculated about is that the dean trying to force McCarthy into retirement.
“Working here keeps me young,” said McCarthy. “They tell me their happy thoughts and their sad thoughts. It’s just a good place to be. I love it here; these kids are my family.”
On behalf of McCarthy, Smith created a 15-page petition including a cover letter and 38 short statements by other music students and people who know McCarthy and can’t stand to see her leave. Also included were an additional 22 signatures from other music students who care very much about the situation. The petition has since been delivered to the office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, DonnaJean Fredeen, last Wednesday, and students plan on scheduling an appointment with Fredeen to further discuss the matter.
“At the start of the academic year, it became evident that there was a need to make a few changes in the assignment of the arts and sciences clerical staff,” said Freeden. “After careful consideration, I made the decision to make a few changes in which the strengths of the secretaries were best matched to the needs of the department. No other factor influenced the decision.”
Smith said everyone in the department loves McCarthy because of her kindness and friendliness to get them through the day. Many students in the department feel the same way.
“I disagree with the dean’s decision. I feel that the dean’s decision came from nowhere with no real warning,” said Jahkeem Ohizep, senior music theory major. “It will change the whole dynamic of the music department. I wish I knew why this decision is being made in the first place.”
Ohizep said he visits her as often as he could and gives her hugs whenever he sees her.
“She is a great listener and cares for everyone. She is a positive influence on us and treats us like her own,” said Ohizep. “She is comfortable where she is and it breaks her heart to have to leave.”
According to many students of the music department, they are dependent on McCarthy to brighten up their day when they are having a hard time in class, as majoring in music can be difficult, and she even goes as far as watching students’ instruments while they attend other classes.
“Students at the music department are different than most; they have such a passion, it’s such a special place to be,” McCarthy said with much emotion.
According to McCarthy, since she works for the state they can transfer her anywhere throughout the university without a reason. It has yet to be determined the real reason for the transfer. One thing is certain; this surrogate grandmother to many music majors will surely be missed.