Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New School Free Speech

The protests of April 10th at the New School are part of an ongoing pattern of opposition by both students and faculty to the policies and practices of the administration of Bob Kerrey.

The over-reaction of the Kerrey administration to the occupation of 65 Fifth Avenue is symptomatic of a top-down policy of intimidation and unilateral thinking that is reflected in the recent mass firings of Parsons Fine Arts faculty.

In this regard it is of note that multiple attempts by Parsons Fine Arts students to engage with the administration to initiate dialogue and solicit information about the firings have been met with obfuscation, double-speak and finally blatant attempts at intimidation.

In a recent meeting of undergraduates it was reported that an administrator threatened to “spit in the face” of any student who “leaked news to the press”.

More than inappropriate, statements like these have a chilling effect on academic discourse and set an intolerably low standard for free speech.

Letter from a Concerned Parsons Parent... We wonder what response they received?

I am writing to express my dismay over the article in yesterday’s New York Times, which details a one-third cut in your Fine Arts faculty. The timing of this article is remarkable. It was published the day after my daughter told me and my wife that she has declared Fine Arts as her major. She is completing her freshman year in the BAFA program, but her true passion is art, and she has been excited about studying art in the Parsons milieu, even though, as she said, she thought the kids in the Fine Arts major were treated as sort of black sheep.

She loves Parsons and what she sees that it stands for (or has stood for up to now). But I would not be surprised if, before long, she comes to realize that her pursuits will not really be honored at Parsons, and that she had better think about transferring to SVA or Pratt, even though she’d not be able to pursue a BA there.

I realize we are in tough economic times but I am, I have to say, amazed that you have allowed Fine Arts to take such a hit, rather than spreading the pain around to all the departments and programs.

So I must ask you, please, to tell me the truth: Are you abandoning Fine Arts and a Parsons tradition?

Should I be advising my daughter to switch to another art school, or perhaps pursue a double major at Hunter?

Yours truly,