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S MFA D I SO R I E N TAT IO N

2012
Hi, I wanted to respond to your message to the SFAI community, but didn't want to broadcast my response. Chris Bratton was the worst leader that I could have ever imagined and it's actually amazing that SFAI survived the entire ordeal. He never actually engaged with SFAI, came in and fired a lot of people so that he could bring in friends from his previous job at SAIC...who he then also fired. He also brought in a bunch of high-level administrators who never came to work but also seemed to wield a lot of power and all did work around postcolonialism. I liked a lot of the "new regime's" artwork and theories...in theory...but as school leaders, it was extremely divisive and damaging to the psyche and spirit of the school. If you had any issue at work it was better to say nothing, because if you spoke up about it, you would be fired. Budgets were slashed to support his and his friend's lucrative pay while departments were given nothing leaving many of our facilities in disrepair (did I hear New Genres black mold closure?!). He managed to alienate our entire Board of Trustees, who were supposed to be his boss. When things got bad, they quit (or maybe he fired them too).They left and let the staff and faculty suffer. He made so many egregious mistakes, it was truly heartbreaking to me that he wasn't fired and was allowed to actually take another high-powered job at another school. He destroyed any and all fair-practices, especially around hiring and firing. No more performance reviews, no more staff parties. He started a tenure system, and then illegally fired a bunch of faculty. No more annual reports, no more board minutes available to the public. Even as a staff member it was like pulling teeth to get access to our tax documents which are legally required to be made public. Act fast. Act now. Rally your community. Don't wallow in victim status like the SFAI community did. Work with the Board. Alert them. He is a tyrant what has never been put in his place and doesn't understand that the more power that you have, the less you should need to use it. I love you for reaching out! love,

A

WA R N I N G :

Towards the end of the spring semester in 2012, a student emailed the entire SMFA community using the “allsmfastudents” account. The email was an open letter discussing some of the recent changes to SMFA, but in particular, the changes to review boards. The student was upset about how many recent decisions at SMFA had been adopted without faculty or student input. The amount of responses to this letter was astounding. Many staff, faculty, and students shared the student’s concerns and were very eager to help one another. Soon after the responses flooded in, the “allsmfastudents” account was deactivated. We can only assume that this was to silence the discontent of the students and faculty, as no other reason was given by administrators or technicians. The deactivation only led to more uproar against the administration. Even though the account was ultimately reactivated, we were shocked by the censorship. The public conversation then refocused on the administration’s lack of transparency, irresponsibility, and total control over the student body. As the semester was quickly coming to an end, many students and faculty felt it necessary to meet together, as a community, to discuss these issues. On May 15, 2012, a community gathering was held in the Remis Auditorium of the MFA. About 60 people, half of whom were students, came to the event, while others that could not attend watched via video stream. Below is a brief summary of some talking points from students, faculty, and staff. A full video of the event can be found at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22607542 Democratic Values Where is there room for student and faculty voices? People feel they are being censored Only a handful of students had any input in the review board changes. One meeting wasn’t enough to make a big decision like this. We are rushing through these decisions, losing the quality of the school along the way. We might not need a president – it’s just a hierarchical structure that doesn’t need to exist. The students are incredible. They have democratic values, and we need to honor that. We need to have more community meetings like this. Transparency and Communication Student Alliance was made to be a liaison between administration and students. SA wasn’t really doing its job efficiently. It seemed they sided towards the administration, rather than the students. Chris’s “dialogue” is a monologue. There needs to be a better format. A format where an actual free and open discussion and dialogue can take place. Short-notice communication is a big problem. It harms transparency and democracy. Claudia’s email response was very offensive. Losing confidence in Claudia as Dean of Students. All admin committees need to be public. Let’s be wary of “this is a transitional period, and it will be ok.” Ideas on Moving Forward We need the power for students to make decisions. We need a democratic body. Use the new student-run wiki! SMFA.WIKISPOT.ORG We need students in all the admin closed-door meetings. The Faculty Senate has been created (how can we add in student collaboration?). We need to take action! Withholding tuition, contracting trustees, striking, interrupting meetings, etc. making a list of demands.

S M FA C O M M U N I T Y G AT H E R I N G S U M M A R Y

C H R I S B R AT T O N - O U R P R E S I D E N T On July 1, 2010, Chris Bratton became SMFA’s president. Before Chris’s employment here at the Museum School, he was the president of the San Francisco Art Institute. In March of 2009, the administration at SFAI - with Chris at the top - planned to fire nearly 25% of their tenured faculty by the end of the semester. The reasons given were budget problems, but after investigation by a third-party accountant, “financial exigency” was debunked. The excuse of “financial exigency” was later disproved again when, in June, SFAI reported healthy financial condition to the city of San Francisco just before the planned layoffs. Much of the faculty that were targeted were either most active in the union or represented art practices that the new administration wanted to do away with. Laying off tenured fulltime faculty also allowed SFAI to employ more professors into part-time adjunct positions, which pay less and have fewer or no benefits. These decisions were made without any input by faculty or students. In reaction to the news of the upcoming layoffs, the students created an organization called SFAI Student Action to battle Chris’s and his colleagues’ decision. They used direct action like barricading the school’s entrance with their bodies and created murals on the outer school walls to express their solidarity with the faculty and their outrage at the president and administration’s actions. Despite the student’s actions, the targeted professors were still fired. The decisions that were made regarding the faculty at SFAI were as undemocratic and top-down as possible. Now that Chris has come to our school, we’ve begun to see similar patterns forming, and we want to stop this before irreversible changes take place.

SOME MAJOR CHANGES

before

attendance policy varies class to class pass/fail credit awarded through review boards 1.5 hour review boards over a 3 wk period independent study (one on one meetings with a prof for course credit) MFA third year (dedicated to thesis work) for free! easy to register for classes of high level senior thesis and core (art school basics class for first years and transfers) are optional more studio space available, early in career classes get cut in the beginning of the semester for low enrollment

M O N E Y, M O N E Y, M O N E Y !
I know you are concerned about money. Even if your parents foot most bills, life’s expensive, especially if you don’t have much income (workstudy isn’t really income, you’re basically just getting a measly return on your tuition bill for your labor). Here are some ways to get funding from the school, from a few cool local institutions, and how to get free resources. You will find that while there’s not a lot of money getting doled out to help you make work, you can adopt the attitude of staying out of extra debt anywhere possible and end up doing OK. Grants and Scholarships from SMFA President’s Research Grant - open to all students, funding from $100-$1,000. hint: they seem to fund more collaborative or group projects and certainly won’t just buy your art supplies. devise something big and you’ll probably get half what you ask for. Montague Travel Grant - open to graduate students, funding for transportation and accommodations. beware, you have to have the money up-front because you get reimbursed later, sometimes much later. Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant - graduating MFA’s. $15,000 to pursue drawing, painting, sculpture at a professional level. Eugene Ward Memorial Scholarship - open to all. $1,000 tuition abatement. Karsh Prize in Photography - awarded to three photographers in the winter. Zine Grant - open to all. get $$ on a copy card for your zine production on the photocopier. There are other prizes and they will be announced throughout the year via email. Or visit http://www.smfa.edu/awards-grants-fellowships for a full list. Local Grants The Awesome Foundation - open to anyone. $1,000 for pretty much any project that the Boston chapter of the foundation feels like supporting. write a good app! Feast Mass - open to all. a dinner party where candidates present proposals to the party attendees and then a vote decides which projects to fund, entirely from the event ticket sales.

IN THE PAST YEAR

after

two unexcused absences and you fail pass/fail credit essentailly awarded by attendance in class shorter review boards over a 2 wk period directed study (group crits and studio hours with a prof for course credit) MFA third year costs $6,000 per semester more prerequisites for high level classes senior thesis and core are required hard to get studio space before 4th year classes get cut during pre-registration for low enrollment

Sell Your Work To collectors at the winter sale, at graduate Medici dinners, in the spring sidewalk sale, during grad open studios, with SMFA kickstarter campaign. How to Get Your Refund from Tufts (for grads) 1. Log in to "tufts webcenter for students" (you can type it into google) 2. Click on the drop down menu "refund request" 3. Click "check my refund eligibility" 4. If funds are available, it will tell you! And you can fill in appropriate information to either have the check mailed to you, or prepared to pick up at Tufts. 5. If funds are not available, a common problem is not being registered at Tufts for FAMB 0402 (the class that alerts Tufts you are a full time grad at SMFA). 6. Our financial aid advisor at Tufts is Sheila Hofstedt. The student employment Tufts rep (re: work study questions, payroll, paperwork) is Joann Grande. Side note: Sheila Hofstedt is awesome, and extremely helpful and accessible. Joann Grande is flakey and if you don't press and remind her about your paperwork, you can go unpaid from work study for up to 2 months. Get Free Stuff! Dumpster dive. Whole Foods in JP is pretty good for food, especially baked goods and greens and City Feed puts their bread outside their dumpsters. Panera throws out so much bread. Home Depot, Walmart, etc. for scrap wood and boxes. The grapevine says that the MFA has a sweet dumpster with art supplies that we’re probably not supposed to jump in. Craigslist in the free category for all kinds of crazy stuff. Pick things up from street corners- it’s probably not dirty (but watch out for bed bugs), just unwanted. Buy things from big box stores and then return them after your performance or installation is over. You can eat for free a lot at SMFA and Tufts if you follow which meetings offer pizza or other snacks. Look for flyers around the campuses. Also, if you are not a dependent (you file taxes separately from your parents) you can apply for food stamps. If you have no income or a very low income from workstudy or a part time job, don’t be ashamed to assert your needs!

RESOURCES
Bookstores Lucy Parsons Center Jamaica Plain Radical bookstore and community space, movie nights on Wed at 7. Papercut Zine Library @ Lorem Ipsum Books Inman Square A fully-functioning lending library, with a focus on hand-made and independently produced materials. Everything from photocopied punk rock zines from the 80's to hand-crafted personal zines bound together with yarn. Run by a collective of volunteer librarians, who also host a number of events including zine making workshops and zine release parties. Secondhand Stores Boomerangs Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Central Square, South End A family of non-profit thrift stores. All proceeds from Boomerangs support AIDS Action's work to prevent new infections, support those affected, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS. Garment District Cambridge Thrift store with huge $1/lb clothing section Ocean State Job Lot Dedham (closest location to Boston, more online) Chain of discount superstores, closeout prices Collective Houses The Burrow Allston A collective house where housemates work individually and as a group to make positive change in the world around them. They make their house available for benefits, performances, meetings and events, and engage wholeheartedly in activism and the arts. Circle Amory Jamaica Plain Collective house with an all volunteer bike co-op that operates a free bike shop on Tuesdays 6-9. Third Monday = Women and Trans Night. Savers West Roxbury (more online) Cheap thrift stores allied to local charities

Whitehaus Jamaica Plain “In March 2007, the Whitehaus opened its doors as a place for traveling and local artists to exchange ideas, sound, and vision. We host informal gatherings exhibiting music, poetry, theater, performance, lecture, film etc. We also curate events all over the City of Boston, and love to organize tight shows showcasing epic numbers of bands email whitehausfamilyrecord@gmail.com or ask around for address.” Gay Gardens (house shows) Allston Butcher Shoppe (house shows) Allston

Periodicals + Forums Boston Collective Housing Assembly https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/bch-assembly Open Google Group. A forum to help find and post about roommates, collective housing, and local underground events and programs. Boston Counter Cultural Compass http://www.bostoncccompass.com/ Monthly newsletter listing underground shows and awesome happenings. High Five Arts and culture zine full of things to do every night without spending much money. Boston Occupier Support Groups + Community Services Boston Area Rape Crisis Center 24-hour hotline: 800.841.8371 Corvid College Pay-what-you-can education and skill-share, where students and teachers with similar interests form classes together. http://corvidcollege.wikidot.com/ Encuentro 5 (E5) Just moved near Park St. Station Providing meeting and office space for activists for social justice. Spontaneous Celebrations Jamaica Plain Center for programming that unites and empowers people for positive change through the arts; produces seasonal celebrations in the Jamaica Plain and Roxbury neighborhoods. Sprout Davis Square For inventive minds who want to learn manual or electronic skills or love science. Queer Dance Spaces Don’t Ask Dont Tell @ Great Scott Allston 21+ Gallery Spaces SMFA Students Have Exhibited At Howard Art Project Dorchester Proof Gallery South Boston Anthony Greaney South End Fourth Wall Projects Fenway Horticultural Hall MFA Main Library

Queeraoke + Ladies Night @ Midway Cafe Jamaica Plain

This guide was made by Chase, B, and Sebastian. Its aim is to inform students about information that is not readily available during orientation. The administration often deliberately withholds crucial details about the workings of our school from the students. We want you to have access to some knowledge that your orientation did not include. Knowledge is power, take some back.

Please join us this Saturday, September 8 for a city-wide Tuition Resistance Meeting. Centered around the national problem of unaffordable college tuition, this meeting hopes to kick off a broad student movement in Boston. https://www.facebook.com/events/213989488723847/ And on Thursday, September 27, the first SMFA community gathering of the new school year will be held. Please be there. It is important that everyone’s voice is heard as we organize a democratic student body for this coming year. Tufts Disorientation Guide: http://tuftsaac.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/disorientation-guide.pdf