By: Jared Beasley
There is a movement of unrest rippling through the student campus and its origins are centered in the Visual Arts Building. The cause is advisors instructing students to take specific Graphic Design classes over the summer, and the same advisors and department chairs refusing to offer those classes. This has resulted in students who should have graduated with a bachelors degree in five years are now forced to stay extra semesters. The problems, however, do not end with just a mandatory sixth year. Many students are unable to secure financial aid as their last semesters spent taking one or two courses will not qualify them for financial aid.
To those that inquire, certain faculty members have replied that there is not enough staff available to teach the courses over the summer. Students have retaliated by directly approaching professors and asking if they were available to teach the course. The response has further confused students, when nearly all those they spoke to replied that they were able and willing to teach those exact courses this summer. Students struggle to stay focused for the recommended four years of university schooling, yet graphic designers willingly press on to finish the five-year program. As such, many of the college’s students express extreme disappointment and frustration at being required to stay and pay for even longer.
Dr. Ken Fitzgerald, head of the graphic design department, was not available for comment, yet fourth year student Kailtyn Paulsen said, “It is not fair for them to advise us to take these summer courses, and then revoke them in the middle of a graduating class’s time here. If they want to change the program, they need to wait for incoming freshmen that they can be advised from the beginning that it will be that way.” Paulsen is part of and leading a campaign entitled “Missing: Summer Graphic Design” and uses both students of the college and the University to back their struggle.
The demonstrations have provided opportunities for the Old Dominion’s talented designers to combine all forms of art in order to attract the attention of the school. Walking through the art department, there are numerous milk cartons bearing the faces of students who are suffering because of the missed courses. The cartons litter the floors, ceilings and directly in front of the head of the department’s office. As of yet, the only contact or support they have received is from fellow students.
The students continue to show their persistence to the cause and the idea of finishing a five year degree in no less than five years. On Feb. 22, Paulsen and others hosted a petition signing in the Webb Student Center and amassed multiple signatures. While the students seem to be receiving no official recognition from the school, they are pressing forward to inspire other students facing the same dilemmas in other colleges. Their message is clear: they will not be ignored and will not stop until they have made their point.