NSCAD’s proposal to sell its Academy Building to balance the university's incessant deficit has students feeling disoriented.
Marilyn Smulders, director of communications for NSCAD says the proposal, presented by president Daniel O’Brien on Monday, was not an official report, but “a musing out loud by the president.” She says, “he wanted to take the opportunity while the students were still on campus.”
The idea was that the sale of the Academy Building would lift the school out of its near million dollar deficit, so they could move forward with the university's future. Smulders says that in some way, “there needs to be change.”
The sale is in response to the university's Space Utilization Study, funded by the provincial government. The space study showed that the university has “too much space for its size,” says Smulders. Of the many options presented by the study, selling the Academy Building was the most cost efficient.
The proposal came on a day when many students were showing their final work. It put a damper on presentations.
Incoming NSCAD student union president Caleb Hung says that while the students union is willing to comply where necessary to save the school, the reason this proposal was made so abruptly is because of the provincial government’s recent post-secondary budget cuts. The school is required to present a plan for dealing with its deficit to the province by June 30.
“It’s saddening to see that the infrastructure is being lost due to budget cuts, infrastructure that has been well maintained,” says Hung, and caters well to the programs it houses.
Hung says SUNSCAD is fine with the change as long as all disrupted parties are consulted in advance and downsizing from three campuses to two doesn’t affect program quality. He fears it will. “I don’t believe we have adequate space to provide for students in the other two campuses."
The Film and Intermedia programs that would be relocated to the Granville Campus require a lot of soundproof spaces. At the Granville Campus, “building location and restrictions make this hard to achieve,” says Hung.
Still, Smulders says with the cost of operating the Academy Building gone they could renovate the Granville Campus. “The programs can be delivered in a different location in a space that would be designed for them,” she says. Also, she ensures there would be “no layoffs and no program cuts.”
Chair of Media Arts Bruce Barber says that “much is at stake with respect to a potential sale of the Academy Building, including but not limited to the quality of student’s education, continued viability of the Film and Intermedia programs and retention of faculty and staff.”
In the fall students at the Granville Campus experienced class relocation when their costume studies workspaces were changed to commercial areas. Now students are being shuffled around again. Barber says, “The move of programs to Granville and the Port campuses may put pressure on programs.”
They are currently seeking independent evaluation of the building’s real estate value and a meeting is being held at the Academy Building Tuesday, April 22 at 2pm to discuss the proposal.