By Scott Strasser, July 4 2016 —
Students brought up registration and timetabling conflicts, campus accessibility, administrative understaffing and a lack of provincial funding.
“Many people have been very frustrated with systemic issues that have been facing the students for years,” ACAD student and rally organizer Jonah Derkson said. “We have a lot of diverse artists who work in Calgary and work in the greater contemporary arts field who feel like they’re not having their voices heard.”
Around 60 people attended the rally, including ACAD students, staff and media.
Recent timetable changes were a key point of contention. Studio classes will change from six hours to 4.5 hours starting in the fall. Derkson said the majority of students voted against the change.
“[Students] didn’t want the timetable change,” he said. “We felt going from six hour classes to 4.5 hour classes wasn’t going to be good for the students.”
According to ACAD’s Student Association, 207 students voted against the timetable change, while 47 voted in favour. Just over 20 per cent of total ACAD students voted.
One of the concerns surrounding the change is the lack of a substantial break between morning and afternoon classes. Alison Miyauchi, ACAD’s acting vice-president research and academic affairs, said the new timetable schedule is meant to give students more flexibility.
“With the old timetable, we could only offer one studio class per day. With the new timetable, we’re able to offer more,” Miyauchi said.
ACAD spokeswoman JoAnn Reynolds said the schedule will be released once classes are established, with a 10-minute break between the morning and afternoon studio classes.
ACAD staff made up a sizeable portion of the rally’s attendees. Miyauchi said student concerns are
taken seriously at the school.
“We are here to be active listeners, to let the students have their voice, and we’ll be recording all their issues,” she said.
Derkson said concerned students will write two petition letters — one to the provincial government and one to the ACAD board of governors.
“There are going to be two separate petitions because the paperwork and the requirements for the school board are greater. In order for them to take us seriously, we need to meet more requirements there,” he said.
The rally included a speech from Derkson and an open mic for ACAD students to voice their grievances. The event also included an anonymous letter box, which Derkson said will be sent to ACAD administration.
During the open mic, third-year visual communications and design student Lise-anne Lacombe spoke about how scheduling conflicts forced her to extend her degree.
“It’s not just me. Because of administration, scheduling and a bunch of other issues at ACAD, we were being forced out of our classes. We were basically being told we couldn’t take our classes and we’d have to take an extra year,” Lacombe said.
Derkson stressed that the rally wasn’t meant to antagonize administration, but rather bring forward issues that affect ACAD students.
“Yes, it’s a protest, but that’s because so many people have tried to speak up against these systemic issues for so long,” he said. “This is our time to actually work with the school, work with administration and work with fellow students so that we can really make a difference in our school.