Battle for Fine Arts continues

By Larissa Castanon & Jefferson Yen

Art students and faculty, still upset about the potential
elimination of Fine Arts, rallied in support of the program last
Tuesday in front of the Bronco Student Center.

Provost Marten denBoer made the recommendation that the Fine
Arts option be eliminated in a meeting with Art Department faculty
members on April 28.

The students and faculty chanted “hell no we won’t go,” as they
paraded across the campus and finally made their way to the CLA
Building, where the office of the provost is located.

Shelley Bruce, a fourth-year arts and gender ethnicity and
multicultural studies student, expressed her anger and
disappointment during the “Save Fine Arts” rally.

“They cannot do this to us,” said Bruce. “This is our education.
We have to fight to save our department.”

Ann Phong, a lecturer for the Art Department, participated in
the march and said faculty members have been gathering in support
of academic programs since a statewide rally in March.

According to George Valeriano, a third-year graphic design
student, faculty members, the Art Student Alliance and the Cal Poly
chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts organized the
rally.

Some students were informed about the rally through social
networking sites. Becca Otis, a second-year graphic design student,
heard of the protest through her Facebook account.A major source of
contention at the rally was with the provost’s assessment that
there was a lack of quality in the program.

Diana Liam, a fourth-year graphic design student, hopes denBoer
will change his mind if he is basing his recommendation on the
accreditation of the program.

“We just found out that we received accreditation,” said Liam.
“The provost said that we didn’t receive accreditation. Hopefully
they reconsider.”

At the base of the CLA Building, students drew in a crowd with a
megaphone. Among the crowd was Doug Freer, vice president of
student affairs, who said he was there to oversee the rally.

“We’re out here to monitor the protest we heard about,” said
Freer. “I came by to not only be symbolically present for the
students, [but] to make sure we continue to conduct ourselves in a
respectful manner.”

According to denBoer, the programs under review were examined
based on several factors. The main criteria, however, were size,
quality and uniqueness of the program.

“If it’s a crucial program that fits with the mission of the
university, like engineering, then we keep it,” said denBoer.

Though programs are assessed on different criteria, denBoer
emphasized that quality is an important determinant in the
decision-making process.

DenBoer said several strategies were sought to avoid program
closures, such as furloughs, hiring freezes and the firing of high
level administrators, however, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s
uncertain budget, denBoer was forced to make cuts.

The furloughs are saving the school an estimated $10-11 million
a year. As for the program closures, the savings are seen over
time, there are no drastic immediate savings, said denBoer.

When discussing the impact of the cuts Robert Braden, a
third-year graphic design student, said that the fine arts students
were a part of the larger Art Department community.

Dean of Environmental Design Michael Woo said denBoer reached
his decision based on several conclusions made about the department
and also due to the money issues the university is facing.

“It is a difficult situation because the state has reduced the
amount of financial support,” said Woo.

Woo said last year, two respectable members from the National
Association of Art and Design, an accreditation organization, were
concerned about the program’s curriculum.

“They raised questions about the Fine Arts program, specifically
if the curriculum was coherent and also the quality of the student
work,” said Woo.

Woo said the provost wants to ensure the school is offering
quality programs during these difficult financial times when money
is extremely tight. He added that denBoer had to question whether
it was possible to maintain a high quality fine arts program.

Babette Mayor, professor and chair for the Art Department,
expressed her anger and disbelief at the way administrators were
handling information that was not meant to be public.

“We received full accreditation with NASAD,” Mayor said. “We
were reviewed and found to be in compliance with the highest
standards.”

Mayor said the review materials made by the visiting team from
NASAD was simply a report and actions should not be made based on
those private reports.

Reach the authors at: news@thepolypost.com

Battle for Fine Arts continues

Jonny Tai/Poly Post

Battle for Fine Arts continues

Battle for Fine Arts continues

Jonny Tai/Poly Post

Battle for Fine Arts continues

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