ACU students have varied reactions to the removal of the Bean piano.
At the start of the semester, ACU Business Services removed the piano in the Bean and replaced it with a table and chairs to accommodate a large student population and a need for more seats in the Bean. Because the piano was removed, Mike Schuler, also known as the Piano Man, was told he would no longer be able to play for the students. Schuler had been playing songs after chapel in the Bean for 22 years. Schuler hopes student reactions through social media and on campus will change the decision.
Anthony Williams, chief of Business Services, and Allison Garrett, ACU’s executive vice president, told the Optimist staff they have nothing more to say about ACU’s decision.
A petition was started on www.change.org and through social media has reached over 1500 signatures. Schuler also made free t-shirts, which he passed out in the Bean on Monday night. The t-shirts say “#DontTakeAwayTheMusic #KeepThePianoInTheBean”.
Rachel Shudde, sophomore political science and math major from Ovalo, said she signed the petition. She said the Piano Man made a small thing like eating in the cafeteria more memorable and enjoyable. Shudde said she appreciates the effort ACU has put into food and responding to students demands this year. She said taking out the piano “seems like a weird discrepancy”. To her, losing the piano is losing a part of what makes ACU different, she said.
Isaiah Tripp, sophomore multimedia major from Baltimore, Maryland, said the Piano Man was a big part of ACU’s culture. Although he’s only listened to the Piano Man play a few times, he said he appreciates the piano because some of his older teammates used to play it.
“The music spoke for itself,” said Tripp. He said he understands the need for more seating in the Bean, but he thinks there could be other solutions, such as putting the piano in the campus center.
Allison Dennis, freshman speech pathology major from Garland, said she knows little of the Piano Man. She said she heard him play once at the Paramount Theatre, but most of what she knows is from her older sister, Jenny Dennis, who is a senior. Her sister enjoyed hearing the Piano Man in the Bean, so Dennis said she thinks it would be nice to hear as well.
“I think it’s a fun ACU tradition,” said Dennis. She heard about the petition and the lack of response from ACU administration, and she said she doesn’t understand the motivation.
“I don’t think students really know what ACU’s reasoning is,” said Dennis. At the same time, she said she also respects the decision. “It’s not our right as students to tell ACU who they can and can’t hire,” she said.
The Piano Man has started playing at Hardin-Simmons University and can also be heard at Cypress Street Station and Heff’s Burgers.