500 signatures reached
To: Glasgow School Of Art Management
Restore 24-hour Studio Access for the Glasgow School Of Art MFA
We would like the management of GSA to listen to their Master of Fine Art students, and restore 24-hour access to our studios.
On Monday the 9th of March from 10:00am onwards, GSA MFA students will stage a protest outside the Mackintosh and Reid buildings on Renfrew Street. This follows the reduction in studio access enacted last summer, which was done with no consultation of students or academic staff. We ask you to support us in defence of the exceptional studio culture of the MFA, and in opposition to the stripping of fundamental resources by the management of the school.
If you agree with our cause, please sign this petition, and if you are willing and able to support us in protest, we invite you to join us between the hours of 12.30pm and 2.30pm. You can follow us on twitter @protestGSA for updates and more information.
Why is this important?
After many years of 24-hour access to MFA studios, GSA students were informed 2 weeks before the beginning of the 2014-15 school year that the School’s new opening hours would be 8am-10pm on weekdays and 8am-6pm on weekends. This news shocked and disappointed us all.
Incoming MFA students were especially frustrated as the school assured them that their program would be running as normal, and they expected the 24-hour access that was a key part of their offer of study. By the time this news was shared incoming students had turned down offers from other institutions and many had already relocated to Glasgow.
The school’s recent announcement of 8 extra opening hours per week for the period of 7 April to 10 June 2015 is a small and temporary gesture, and it does not address our underlying needs and concerns. Extended studio access should not be a exceptional concession, but a fundamental aspect of our studies.
This reduced access threatens that soon only the most privileged postgraduate applicants will be able to consider GSA as an option. In the past, 24-hour access has allowed students to make the most of their time in the school, to develop their own specialised working practices, and to balance time in the studio with other responsibilities, such as childcare and employment. The sudden dramatic reduction in access not only represents a blow to the ethos of the course, but has also put the very ability of students to study at stake.
We now have 53% of the studio access that we were told we would have, and that second year students had in the last academic year. The importance of studio time to the culture of the MFA, and the production of exceptional alumni, cannot be overestimated, and neither can the impact of these new opening hours. Already freedom of practice has been dramatically curtailed, periods of assessment have been extremely fraught, and student morale has been decimated.
We have attempted over the past 6 months to build a dialogue with GSA management around this issue, through various official channels, only to consistently face dead ends. We now feel that we have exhausted all avenues for dialogue and that GSA management are unwilling to listen to our concerns. Requests to directly address the GSA Executive Group have been approved in theory, but never been organised. Promises of updates and communication have been consistently broken. Documents composed by MFA students to inform the Executive Group’s decisions have been disregarded. Despite our repeated attempts, the school has refused to hear us in any meaningful way.
The school cannot trade on the ‘Glasgow Miracle’ and Turner Prize-winning alumni while mistreating the students who study here. In the wake of the Mackintosh fire, steps must of course be taken to ensure the safety of the students in the school, and its legacy of excellence. What this decision and action by GSA management shows, however, is a dangerous disregard for the cultures which have created this legacy of excellence. At this time of volatility, the student experience and the work of students should be protected, not jeopardised and ignored.