Enter the silence.


Tuesday (11/13/12)

8:45AM Dave Crawley
I wasn’t sure if word had spread about the petition. It had. The petition and open letter were already printed out on his desk when I arrived. Not in the mood for answering questions I posed in the open letter, Dave Informed me he could not speak on the issue.

I confirmed to Dave that this is a student led initiative and both Lars and Miles have nothing to do with it. He also said he wanted to hear from Lars and Miles. I find this strange as….If I was in this situation as a manager… my first reaction would be to contact my employees and resolve it promptly. Yet, as of 10:00pm Wednesday neither Lars or Miles has been contacted by ANYONE at ACCD.

He Indicated it was something they wanted to discuss with ACSG and was on his way to a meeting with George Falardeau.

7:30PM ACSG Meeting
After the seemingly calculated response from Dave Crawely and an indication of wanting to work with ACSG I was surprised that the shop had not even contacted ACSG to get their side or bothered to show up. Granted it is past their working hours. Fred Fehlau(Provost) was in attendance and kindly listened our thoughts. By this time word had spread to ACSG that this was officially an HR issue, and ACSG cannot engage in issues concerning HR.

I want to give huge thanks to both Tyler Bennett and Thomas Belhacene for showing up and helping me convey the importance of keeping instructors like Miles and Lars in the shop.

For the purpose of clarity we thought we should deal with Miles and Lars separately as their situations differ. Miles has been terminated due to issues stemming from a shoulder injury in the shop. I believe this is where the HR conflict comes from to keep things confidential for Miles sake. Regardless I have asked him to report on the situation so at least the student body has an Idea surrounding his termination.

Lars has not been terminated, but, as mentioned in the open letter his hours are slowly being cut, term after term.

While the ACSG was empathetic to the cause no action can be taken. We did talk about other issues in the shop and ways we can give positive support to all the shop instructors that work with us. An idea I thought particularly insightful was a board with the instructors photos and specialty, with a correlating schedule. So if you had a favorite instructor with a specific skill you know when you could find them. This would also highlight how little Lars is actually in the shop….

So to sum it up, lots of talk, no answers. At this point, I don’t expect to get answers related to why this is happening. Instead I want to get Lars in the shop working where he belongs. Hopefully opening up discussion to how we can improve shop/ student relationship in the process.

Wednesday (11/14/12)

5:00pm Lorne Buchman (President)
Before meeting Lorne I had only heard positive things about him. I can confirm that he not only has student’s best interest in mind but is also strikes me as a very compassionate and genuine person. I explained to him why I felt compelled to start this, and the importance people like Lars and Miles play in the shop and Art Center as a whole.

He clearly already understood their importance and was empathetic to students feelings on influential instructors like Lars and Miles. He could not answer my questions as well because of HR issues.  I’m not sure he was fully aware of the situation as he seemed surprised that Lars was only working three hours a week last term. And even less hours this term.

I tried to portray how this felt as a student, and admitted I don’t know the whole picture. But if they won’t tell me whats going on then how am I to judge what if what is going on is in my best interest? All I see is a favorite instructor being forced out.  I think In the end we have we have to trust Lorne’s judgement. He told me he would look into the situation, whether favorites are being played or if some form of retribution is being handed out.  On the flip side if he concludes the actions are justified we should accept his judgment that is in the students best interest, even if he cannot divulge in the details.

Also this will hopefully open up a dialogue between Lars, the shop teachers and Lorne. I want to thank Lorne again for dealing with it in this way. I know there is a chain of command here, but I’m afraid things get lost as they move up the ladder, and by talking to students and instructors hopefully he can fill in the blanks.

Conclusion:

Nobody at Art Center will answer my original questions I posed:

1. Why are Lars and Miles not working? People who I feel are the most influential in my shop experience at Art Center.

2.What will you do to fix this?

3. What system will you put in place to avoid this situations like in the future. Where students like myself feel you’re not putting our best interest first. And influential instructors feel disrespected and undermined?

And looking forward, I’m not sure we’ll get answers. If I follow what I’ve learned in my design education, I’ll find these answers and try to facilitate a solution. However, this isn’t my job as a student, and I have neither the time or energy to pursue that. What is important, in my view, is to get Lars in the shop. I get the impression, as much as I would like Miles back in the shop, that it won’t happen.

I find it strange that last week this was not an issue, and once it’s exposed to students, it’s suddenly and HR issue…I call bullshit. I freely admit I don’t know the details of what, if anything is going on(that’s why I wrote the open letter). Whether is personal or political It doesn’t matter, such selfish actions should not inhibit my education, which is what happens when instructors like Lars are working less than three hours a week.

However, thanks to everyone’s support this is a visible issue and students can be aware and monitor it. ACSG will hopefully follow through actions they can take. I trust Lorne to make the best decision for the students.

My opinion:

I feel the shop and 3D laps need to be restructured under a department chair. They are currently lead under the operations/facilities and operate as a separate entiity. The process of learning how to navigate the shop faciliites and 3D labs is not only confusing but intimating for new students.

Lets look at the process of completing a project for many students at ACCD:

A teacher from a department, assigns a project. The student has figure out how to complete the assignment using the 3D labs and Shop, where there is no lead person to talk to. Instead we find many specialized instructors. (This is where I really appreciated Lars in Miles, they helped coordinate our WHOLE projects, not just babysit the bandsaws) Often projects involve lasercutting, cnc, 3d printing, and shopwork. To complete the project the student has to seek out  instructors who are not in the same department as the teacher to figure out how to complete the project. Then navigate a maze of different rules, regulations, and processes, none of which they are competent in. We are not, after all, getting a degree in model making, if there is such a degree.

If all the shop facilities were under a department chair,  a person who could help direct students in this confusing process, and create better flow between classes and the shop,  the experience would not only be more student focused but much more efficent.

But thats just my .02. I’ve got one term left. I’m out of here. It’s up to the upcoming students to influence change.

PS, if you see lars in the shop, give him a high five 🙂 

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Categories: OPINION

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