AS MUCH AS I would love to dedicate this letter to complaining about the disaster that was the U-Pass distribution this year, I am addressing this one to the University of Ottawa administration to ask them to give a little more consideration to the Department of Visual Arts. As a fifth-year student, I thought I knew campus like the back of my hand and was baffled when I did not recognize the building code “SCR” for one of my classes. I was even more surprised and confused when I found that the University of Ottawa administration had in fact put my class in a church.
On a campus where the diversity among students is astounding, is it really inclusive to put a university course in a Catholic church? Please spare me the argument that, “It’s now been converted into a classroom that belongs to the university.” Just because you put a bunch of desks in a room and slap on a University of Ottawa sign on the outside of the room does not remove it physically from the building it is in.
The funny part is that this would never happen to a science or engineering course—it’s always the small departments that get the bottom of the barrel. I’m sure that anyone who has had the displeasure of having a class in one of the tiny classrooms in Hagen Hall can attest to that (you know, the ones where the “desks” are too small to even fit a binder on).
There is also the question of our dear old visual arts building. Sure, from the outside it has a charming old-English castle feel, but it’s very obvious upon entering that it has not aged gracefully. It is, after all, the oldest building on campus. Oh, and did I mention it is non-accessible? If you have a physical disability, forget about taking the visual arts program at U of O. Of course they haven’t built us a new department so far since we have no funding.
Without the necessary space (and accessibility), our program cannot grow and we will continue to have studio classes with too many students in them, be stuck in awful classrooms, have only one academic advisor for the entire department, and have “bilingual” classes where the students from the French program are taught entirely in English (that’s a whole other can of worms I don’t have time to open).
All I am asking from you, University of Ottawa administration, is that you spend a little more time thinking about the visual arts program on campus and that you leave the job of failing to support the arts to our government.
Fifth-year visual arts student