San Francisco Art Institute OOPS!

To Diana from anonymous administrator at SFAI (rcvd March 8, 2009):

Madness at SFAI? In brief: There were ominous rumblings from the administration in Fall 2008 about the financial downturn's effect on SFAI's dwindling endowment. At the December faculty meeting, President Bratton warned the faculty about impending disaster, but "guaranteed" the faculty's next two paychecks. The very next day a notice appeared in everybody's mailbox announcing a month-long "furlough" (mid-December to mid-January), which, in its new meaning, means that nobody gets paid. The place was more or less locked up for that month. In February, the administration announced that SFAI was declaring "financial exigency", which seems to be some sort of contract term. In the contract there is a stipulated emergency procedure under such a condition: 1. Voluntary reductions in classes, and various sorts of shuffling, then 2. Laying off lecturers, then 3. Laying off faculty in order of reverse seniority. So, ignoring the explicitly stipulated procedure, Bratton then announced that 9 faculty - Robert Hopkins, Janis Lipzin, Pat Klein, Jon Lang, Stacey Garfinkel, Stephanie Ellis, Suzanne Olmstead, John Rapko and Charles Boone - were being laid off. As far as the faculty knows, not one lecturer has been laid off, and not one of the layoffs results from reverse seniority. So each of the nine has filed an individual grievance, and the Union has filed a 10th grievance for the obvious contract violations. Rapko had of course already been suspended for 6 months without pay for his role as the only SFAI faculty member who protested the Animal Execution Videos by Adel Abdessemed which were shown at the school gallery for several days in April 2008 before a public outcry against executions as art made Enwezor and Bratton and Hou Hanrou close the show for fear of having to defend the exhibition. Rapko recently gave a lecture on the Abdessemed show which was entitled "Art and Evil: The Uses of Slaughter." 

Now an SFAI student revolt is brewing. There was a meeting of students on March 5th (around 100 showed up) who were unanimously outraged at the administration's actions. There will be open protesting, contacting alumni, contacting media, and there's a movement to have a "no confidence" vote on Enwezor. The students seem particularly outraged about a big meeting held a couple of weeks ago, where Bratton announced the layoffs to open cries of dismay and weeping. Enwezor shouted "how dare you!" at one of the students who questioned something he said. 
(DT) The artworld has never been particularly concerned with the ethics of those to whom they give power. And here are a few men - Enwezor, Bratton and Hanrou - who have used their power to stage an exhibition of animal execution videos, fire a tenured professor who protested the show, have been recorded screaming at tenured professors and at students who object to the administration running their school into the ground... 
This is how bullies behave - not educators.

 

Posted by diana on 1/14/09 in | Permalink