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Mace & Crown | March 22, 2018

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Got GD?

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.

  • Megan

    In meeting with the art department head today, she stated to us that BFA’s take 5 years to complete due to the demanding 80 credit hours. On the other hand, a BA takes 4 years to complete with 36 hours. I am a junior and WILL finish my BFA in 4 years with a minor. That is only if I can take graphic design 3 & 4 over the summer. I rely on summer classes to keep myself on track and lighten up the load during the fall and spring. This whole 5 year crap is absurd. We, the graphic design 2 students, are stuck in limbo between the old ways of the art department and the new ideas of scheduling that they are enforcing. We are paying the price. It’s unfair!!

  • Terri

    ODU sucks. Everyone knows it.
    We’re only here because we have no other choice.

    • Holly

      Then join in and do something to try to fix it. Even if things don’t happen today the effort may help for tomorrow.

    • Joyce

      If ODU sucks so bad – why stay? Why don’t you take yourself over to the community college where your talents would be more appreciated, or even better, just be a drop-out all together. The school is a reflection of it’s students, so maybe you and your attitude are the reason – you think the school sucks because you know you do!

  • D.M.

    When I graduated a few years ago (class of ’06), it only took me 4 years to get my BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in Marketing. If I had not taken summer courses (I took 4 summer courses total), it would have taken me 5 years on the nose to graduate.

    If students plan from the beginning and stay on track, it is possible to do it in five years (without taking 18 credits a semester). If my math is correct, 80 credits to major, plus 15 to minor (we’ll say marketing), 5 years with 2 semesters a piece equals… 9.5 (we’ll say 10) credit hours a semester.

    I know that courses normally come in increments of 3 credit hours, so that takes us up to 12 credit hours a semester. That’s the minimum “full time” student status. (It’s still 12 right?)

    Sounds like some students can’t plan ahead. I have to ask, if they can organize to protest the situation, couldn’t they be organized enough to get their schedule straight? I’ll probably get flamed for it, but I had to ask.

    • megan

      sure you have the right to ask. here is the thing. as a freshman no one really sat me down and told me that i should take my core art classes first and throw in a gen ed or two to fill space. so, my little freshman self went and started with the lower level classes (which were easier to get into) and worked my way up to the 300 and 400 level classes. i finished my all but ONE of my gen eds in two semesters. then i was stuck. i started using art history courses as fillers. now i have none of those left. I have to get into the graphic design program and get that class. I have very little options left.

  • Jared, I’m surprised that you managed to find me “unavailable for comment.” My e-mail is, telephone 683-5459, office Visual Arts Building 112 (I’m regularly available for walk-in advising M,W,F 8:30am–3:00pm). I welcome you to contact me at your soonest convenience so I might comment about this situation (I also welcome the affected students to speak directly to me). As is often the case, the story is more complicated and subtle than described. BTW, I am not a doctor (PhD). My degree is an MFA, which has no honorific.