Update: Administration Issues Apology to Art Students, Construction to Continue
Editor’s Note: This article is an update to a piece published by The Commentator on July 12 which can be found here.
Art students at Stern College for Women (SCW) received an apology on July 17 from the Yeshiva University administration for mishandling students’ artwork during renovations to repurpose space from the Art Department to the Katz School of Science and Health’s new cybersecurity master’s program. The statement was signed by Dean of Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Karen Bacon and Provost Selma Botman.
Citing the “confusion” from the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent “protracted absence from campus,” Bacon and Botman admitted that, “in hindsight … everything needed to be packed and stored for the possibility of a protracted absence from campus.” The statement continued, “This miscalculation has impacted our graduating seniors in particular, and it is certainly not the way we hoped to celebrate the culmination of their achievements. We are truly sorry this happened.” Construction on the art floor will continue as planned.
On July 13, before the apology was issued, Basya Goldstein (SCW ‘21) and another art student visited the eighth floor of 215 Lexington Ave., where the art floor is located. “What we saw was totally shocking,” said Goldstein. “The students’ artwork from those rooms were dumped and strewn around, treated like garbage. Artwork we’ve spent our years at Stern creating had wires and equipment stacked between them, thereby bending and damaging them.” Goldstein previously related her experience in a Commentator opinions article.
Rocky Pincus (SCW ‘20), a recent graduate, related that her artwork was still hung up, even while the floor was officially under construction. “That was just shocking,” she expressed. “The one thing the school could have done to make things not as bad was to handle the artwork properly and just be respectful of everyone’s stuff, and they didn’t do either of those things.”
Pincus believed the administration’s apology was “misplaced.” “They put a lot of the blame on the COVID situation,” she said. “How someone takes [the artwork] out shouldn’t be affected by that and they didn’t take responsibility for how it was handled or the fact that stuff was still left inside.”
Current students enrolled in the Stern art program were also disappointed with the situation. “I was really disheartened to find out that they had started renovations without letting anyone know,” said Baila Landa (SCW ‘23). “Like many students, I have a lot of supplies and projects still in the classrooms, and I don't want anything to happen to them. It kind of seems like they are taking all our hard work and showing it off when it's convenient for them, and then not giving us the space or resources we need when it's inconvenient.”
Referring to the apology letter, Landa added, “It seems Dean Bacon and Provost Botman really do care about us art students, and I am hopeful that they will work with Prof. Tullius to set things right and make up for everything that has happened.”
Photo Caption: The state of the art floor during the renovations
Photo Credit: Basya Goldstein