Three students have attempted to answer that question with a petition for a concert hall.
Andrew Alness, Sarah Olson and Sam Fouts, all juniors at Concordia, began working on the petition on Oct. 30.
The idea came following a meeting that day between Dean Eliason and members of the music ensembles. The meeting was held to inform students about the sensitive state of Memorial Auditorium and what would happen next.
According to Eliason, the meeting was held to address the safety of the building and to announce that the Christmas concert would move to a new location.
During the meeting the idea to build a concert space was mentioned, Fouts said. Students responded with an enthusiastic round of applause. That is when the idea struck.
“We need to turn this enthusiastic response into some form of action,” he said.
That night, Olson, Fouts and Alness began brainstorming ideas and laying out their key points.
“Between the writing and the revising…it took us about four hours that first night,” Olson said.
The three expressed that they were careful to write the petition clearly so people would understand their ideas.
The petition was published online Oct. 31 on change.org and received 370 signatures in one week.
The petition itself includes no stated proposal about where the funds for building a concert hall could come from. The students acknowledged that they do not know the potential costs of the project or the means by which the college could raise these funds.
The students said they would like a multipurpose space that could be embraced by the whole campus. They have looked to Luther’s Center for Faith and Life as well as Benson Great Hall at Bethel for inspiration.
“We didn’t want to feel like we were asking for something just for the music department,” Olson said.
They believe events like symposium, special speakers, concerts and chapel could be held in the space.
“There are so many things that happen on campus that would benefit from having a more professional speaking and meeting place,” Alness said.
Alness suggested a concert space could even be a revenue source for the school. It could be rented out for professional groups and performers.
The petition has received signatures from people from multiple states including South Dakota, Iowa and California. The students are surprised at how far the petition has reached.
Prospective students, alumni and people from other schools have expressed an interest in the petition.
“I love when I see a signature of someone I don’t know,” Fouts said.
Dean Eliason said he was impressed to see the community learn and respond to the issue.
He said having a conversation about the issue is good. However, he said the campus will have to wait until the engineering reports come back in the spring before any other decisions are made.
Not everyone agrees with the petition, however.
Olson said she has heard comments that the petition was not the best way to raise awareness because people were already aware. She also mentioned that most of the disagreements have been on social media sites.
“We view our (petition) as articulating the issue,” she said. “We view it as a way to organize support.”
Fouts explained that they are not trying to place music on a pedestal or take money from other projects.
“We are not demanding anything,” he said.
Taylor Wrege, a junior pre-optometry major, said she understands how difficult it is to perform in a gym from her time in high school choir.
She said she supports the idea to build a space but remembers there is an order to which departments get new buildings.
“The science building needs to be done,” Wrege said.
The next step for the petitioners is to take the petition to the president and board of regents.
Olson said they have asked themselves where a space could fit or how money for a space could be raised, but they have not designed any specific proposals.
“The idea is to show support for this and hopefully start a long-term conversation,” Alness said.
Olson said she knows that nothing will be built in their time at Concordia.
“We’re just happy to be a part of starting the conversation and hopefully getting it moving in the right direction,” she said.