August 29th, 2011
Claire Eike, Director of Flaxman Library, says that the library staff cares “passionately about the work we do for the SAIC community and we’re eager to make any improvements that we can.” Yoo’s complaint comes as no surprise to her; she says that she “noticed the MA students’ plea for more hours in the F ‘summer picks’ supplement a couple of months back.” Accordingly, Flaxman’s hours have been changed. It will now stay open until 10:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, upon the start of the Fall 2011 semester. By way of comparison, both Columbia College Chicago’s and DePaul’s Loop library are also open until 10:00 p.m.
In regards to study space, Eike says that “The Library staff and the school administration recognize that we have inadequate individual study space in Flaxman Library, and almost no group study space.” According to her, “SAIC is developing a Campus Master Plan that will include a long-range vision for the library, but we also want to find interim steps that better address the needs of the students who are here today.”
She urges students with suggestions about how to better meet the needs of MA programs to talk to the Library Committee (a Faculty Senate committee co-chaired by Eike and Mark Booth, Writing faculty), the MA Program Heads (a Faculty Senate committee co-chaired by Candida Alvarez, Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Painting and Drawing) or the Strategic Planning Action Group charged with developing a Campus Master Plan (co-chaired by Paul Ashley, Associate Professor of Liberal Arts, and Ed McNulty, Senior Vice President of Planning and Chief Operating Officer of SAIC).
Eike points out that the school has had to evolve as it expanded to include MA programs, and therefore might still be lagging in a few areas. However, she believes that SAIC is making strides to meet all the needs of its students.
Nevertheless, there are still those who believe that these interim steps are not enough. A longstanding point of contention amongst MA students has been the fact that oftentimes three or four different departments will be forced to share one lounge. For example, the Art History department, the Visual and Critical Studies department, and the New Arts Journalism department share one lounge and three computers on the seventh floor of the MacLean Building.
“I’ve actually just gotten the MA students another space to use because we have so many students packed into such a small space,” says Shay DeGrandis. “I’ve complained to the administration about that numerous times. I’m like, ‘You keep adding new programs to the MA academics here at SAIC, but you don’t give them any more space.’ And that’s really unfair.”
By way of comparison, Sound students — in addition to partaking in the Studio lottery — have “access to several graduate-only workstations, which we configure, budget permitting, in response to student requests,” says Nicolas Collins, head of the Sound department. “They also have pretty open access to all our other studios. And this summer we underwent a facilities expansion that includes a communal graduate studio/lounge and a new modular analog system designed by the grad students.”
For Painting and Drawing students, “studio space is paramount,” says Erik Lebofsky. “Therefore, we make sure to provide ample studios with adequate ventilation and naturally lit critique spaces. In terms of artificial lighting in critique spaces, we are in the process of installing daylight fluorescent fixtures in place of the incandescent track light that was previously employed.”
This stands in stark contrast to the case of the VCS department, for instance, according to DeGrandis.
“We have a lot of trouble with those students,” she states, “because they actually make things but they’re considered an MA, so we can’t really get them studio spaces. They have to share this sort of lounge-y space with other programs, but it doesn’t really fit what they do.” Despite SAIC’s inter-disciplinary philosophy, accommodating the interdisciplinary nature of the VCS department has proven troublesome.
“They added this extra MA[NAJ] program and they were just like, ‘Well, since Shay — that department — is taking care of them, they can just use the same space as everyone else,’” she says. “Which is totally unfair and completely, as far as I’m concerned, irresponsible.”