Protect Sewanee Student Rights: Save Carnegie sign now

The University of the South. Sewanee. The Mountain.

However it is referenced, Sewanee is a haven of honor and learning; it is known as a touchstone for fruitful enterprises, principles, and ideas. Insisting upon excellence from its students and community, the University describes itself as encouraging "serious intellectual pursuit" and a fervor for "collaborative learning."

Yet recent decisions made by the University force one to question the values that the current administration is now associating with the University of the South.

On September 28th 2009, the current administration has elected that the University will remove 1600 square feet of invaluable class and work space from the Carnegie building. In an effort to create office space for six, the University will displace over forty students who depend upon this space to collaborate, create, and learn. Displaced along with these 40 students will be Digital Art labs, Video labs, and invaluable studio workspace for which there are no alternate spaces available on campus. Even worse, construction will entirely shutdown the photography labs- removing Photography courses from Sewanees valued course catalogue.

Those students already enrolled within Art courses will suddenly find themselves unable to complete the course work for which they have enrolled within the University. Likewise, it will prevent Art majors from comping with all of the resources they were promised when they began to pay for their education at Sewanee. While millions of dollars are spent at Sewanee to create more educational space for students, this is a remarkable instance where tuition money will be used to remove and deny resources to those students who pay to learn with it.

To make matters worse, no realistic alternative spaces have been provided for displaced classes and workspace. Nabit, the Art building completed in 2005, was only designed to house Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture; it is full. Unlike other departments that can utilize the DuPont Library to complete course work, Art requires highly specialized spaces that allow room to maneuver and spread out. The administration has offered a small space on the third floor of Carnegie, but this trade does not seem viable: the room is already in use by the Art History department and has been for years; it replaces less than half of the space the administration is removing; it lacks the highly-specialized lighting and ventilation systems already in place on the second floor; and it will be needlessly expensive to renovate.

These decisions do not fall in line with the unwavering tradition of excellence that characterizes the University of the South. They devalue quality of education for many in order to prioritize the office space of a few. What integrity is to be found in an institute that devalues the needs of its own students and professors in the name of premium office space?

The question is rhetorical, and yet the implications are as unsettling as they are real. As they are provided to me, the details of the University\'s decision are below. As an alumnus of the University of the South I am ashamed to see the standards of this institution brought so low for such little gain.

If you disagree with the University\'s decision to eliminate student work and class space on the second floor of Carnegie, I urge you to sign this petition. Perhaps a list of names will prove fruitless, but what better a desire than to protect student rights, protect learning-space, and protect the future of Sewanee as an institution characterized by intellectual integrity.

How good it is.

Robert Parker
Class of 2009

If you are an Alumnus, pleas include your class year when you sign.

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DETAILS
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The VC and the Executive Committee has decreed that the Music Faculty are to move out of Van Ness and be near Guerry. Consequently, Philosophy Faculty need to move out of Guerry. The admin. has decreed that the new offices for Phil. are to be on the second floor of Carnegie, in the 1600 sq. ft. that is currently occupied by the photo/digital art facilities and SR art majors working on their comps. Construction for these 6 new offices is to begin in October September 28.

Pradip Malde is teaching in these spaces. All three of his classes meet there and students from drawing and painting, video, photography, digital art and intro art classes use the spaces outside of class time on a regular, daily basis. Forty students in all are authorized to use this highly specialized space. Carnegie 201 now has a bank of six top-of-the-line computers, scanners and printers, tailored for digital, photo, video and sound work. We have been told, with no official communication, that we have to vacate the area. The Dean has suggested that the facility in 201 move to the Slide Library (SL) in Carnegie. The SL is full of slide cabinets, a small office and light tables and desks. There has been no discussion of whether or not adequate space is available in that room. There has been no discussion of how exactly and how much time it will take to move from 201 to the SL. And there has been no discussion of how much this will cost in terms of class time, man hours and equipment. Also, there has been no discussion or even acknowledgment of the impact of construction on the dust and vibration-sensitive facilities in the photo labs, which will be inoperable during any construction.

In sum, this initiative ignores:
a) that classes, similar to science labs and lecture rooms, depend heavily on proximity of teaching spaces

b) that art classes need more space and work surfaces than a traditional lecture class

c) that art classes need light and access to special equipment

d) that there are spaces on the third floor of Carnegie that could easily, and for a lot less money, be converted into office spaces (leave alone the fact that there are currently two vacant office spaces there already!)

e) that we are in a state of financial exigency, and should be doing everything possible to limit renovation and remodeling projects, and everything to ensure we keep attracting students to our programs

f) that this sets up a really dangerous precedent for all faculty and teaching space allocations - the administration can step into a space during semester and redesignate its usage without any consultation with faculty or consideration of the impact the decision has on teaching.

g) That it will take time, resources and money to move a sensitive and complex digital arts setup to another location. We estimate that it will take about one week, 100 man-hours, and an undefinable amount of money and cost in terms of lost class-time to make the move.

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Jerry SchmidtBy:
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Sewanee Administration

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