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SMFA

DISORIENTATION

GUIDE


About

This publication is the second in a series of annual Disorientation Guides. Through this guide, we hope to provide an alternative orientation for both new and returning students. There is a great deal of information that the school, sometimes deliberately and sometimes negligently, does not provide students. We want you to have access to all the knowledge that your orientation did not include.

A L etter to the S chool

What brings us all together here to the Museum School? Our school encourages open, self-directed study in the arts. It helps its students develop their voices by promoting experimentation in different media, supporting efforts to push the boundaries of traditional disciplines, and emphasizing the essential connection between theory and practice. Ultimately, selfdetermination is the unifying, animating force behind all of our creative paths. Unfortunately, over the past two years, students have been excluded from the key decisions that are shaping the future of our school. We are in a crisis – the students, the faculty, the staff, all of us. The true crisis is not a mere matter of dollars and cents, as the new administration proclaims. It is one that concerns our education, plain and simple. For the past two years, under the new Strategic Plan, SMFA has gained an increased interest in accreditation and financial growth (two things students never asked for). SMFA has been led astray. In this journey to become another pay-for-your-degree college, changes have been made undemocratically without students’ interests in mind (see page 3). However, the top administrators are not all to blame for this exclusion. The student and faculty bodies, as a whole, have failed to take the necessary action to organize for positive change. Our school prides itself on liberal, experimental, and open-minded views. With these values in mind, it is up to all of us to imagine a better SMFA. Through this time of change, students have publicly voiced their opinions through all-school emails, various open forums, and publications. We want transparency through open administrative meetings and a published budget. We want respect of everyone’s voices through unrestricted communication, including email, posters, and banners. We want a democratic system through a fair, inclusive process of decision-making that gives importance to the opinions of all students, faculty, and staff.


F r e e S p e e c h a t S M FA ?

Institutions claim to have our best interests in mind, but how can they know what these interests are without hearing our voice? Rather than listening, our school assumes our needs. Our administration is censoring students in two different ways. First, they are limiting platforms for open dialogue. Second, they are screening for content. These new policies are impinging upon our freedom of speech as students and artists. Paulo Freire said that “any situation in which some individuals prevent others in engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence.� SMFA is in this very situation. Students are being silenced. Over the past year, changes have been implemented in the school and students have not kept quiet. We experience perpetual censorship when putting up posters, banners, producing publications, creating events and generally going about our art practices. This summer, SMFA Communications sent out an email about the end of the open all-school email. With this announcement, they introduced a new online forum, to be used as the new platform for dialogue. However, every topic in this forum must be approved. Prior to this, an important function of the all school email was to get messages out to the entire community. The enforced screening of the email system and the new online forum limits content to whatever the higher powers deem appropriate. This sort of moderation has been quickly spreading from platform to platform, leaving students with no unsanctioned method of communication. Students are now threatened with serious penalties for publishing unapproved content. Students should not be expected to innocently swallow the myth that the administration has our best interests in mind. The school is run on a business model, rapidly increasing enrollment by creating new programs in order to boost revenue, rather than focusing on positive educational reform. This student-asmoney mentality combined with the lack of communication and transparency is proving detrimental to building mutual trust between students, faculty, and the administration. In order to build a collaborative SMFA experience, where everyone’s voices are influential, we propose a student-run platform for dialogue. Our goal this semester is to form a student government that will ensure our involvement in all future plans for our school.


Student Debt Crisis Deepens

Whitney Barkley and StudentNation The Nation - July 12, 2013

For many Americans, economic forecasts can seem a lot like Chicken Little, constantly screaming that the sky is falling. But for college students and recent graduates dependent on federal financial aid to fund their educations, that’s exactly what is happening. On July 1, interest rates on subsidized federal student loans doubled, adjusting from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent overnight. That means that the already economybusting student loan issue just got a whole lot worse. And a legislative attempt to bring the rates back down failed this week.* Americans have $1.1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, more than credit card debt or car loans. And unlike those debts, it’s nearly impossible to get out from under student loans—borrowers usually can’t discharge it in bankruptcy, refinance it or modify the loan. There’s no time limitation on collecting a student debt. In fact, students who become disabled can even have their social security payments garnished to pay off their education loans. It’s a system that Salon’s David Dayen refers to as indentured servitude—because unlike other types of loans, you literally cannot break free until you have worked off the debt.

This is particularly true for students in states like Mississippi, where 54 percent of students have college loan debt and, on average, graduate with about $24,000 in student loans. With the national unemployment rate for new college graduates holding steady at around 8 percent, our best and brightest are left with a terrible choice: try to start making payments while unemployed or underemployed or go to graduate school, taking out more loans in the process. It’s a financial burden that will weigh down all sectors of the American economy. People who earned college diplomas used to be more likely to become homeowners than those without—now, college graduates with student loan debt are 36 percent less likely to own a home. They are also less likely to purchase cars or start small businesses and more likely to delay starting families. Instead of contributing to the state and national economy, those with student loans are contributing only to the narrowest of financial balance sheets—those of debt collectors and banks. Congress must address the growing student debt issue. Students aren’t takers—they have worked hard to get into college and graduate school, and have shown that they are dedicated to improving themselves and their communities. They deserve better than lifelong debt and crushing educational loan bills. *Student Loan Rates are now at 5.4% (Sept. 2013)


excerpts from

Majoring in English Monica Torres

I’m an English major. It is a language of conquest. …I benefit from its richness, but I’m not exempt from its limitations. I am ‘that girl’ in your English classes, the one who is tired of talking about dead white dudes. But I’m still complicit with the system, reading nineteenth-century British literature to graduate… …In order to graduate from my college, you must take one course that “actively promotes a self-conscious and critical engagement with diversity.” It’s called the Exploring Diversity Initiative. Columbus called it exploration, too. Michel RolphTrouillot called it a sweeter word for conquest. In theory, the goals of exploring diversity–empathetic understanding, critical theorization, comparative studies of cultures and societies, and examining power and privilege– should produce my favorite kind of course, but the conversation shifts depending on who’s in the room. Conflicts arise when students try to map the trajectory of race from Point A to Point B without studying any of the legend. Without realizing that their landmarks may not match mine… The Angry Minority label is a label that once stuck, will never peel away. As a freshman, I avoided it, speaking carefully, never calling anyone out, and framing racism as something that only happens between pages, in faraway cities, but never to us. It took a campus bias incident, a campus hate crime, and all of my Ethnic Studies courses to articulate my rage into a language that could not be dismissed so easily. Speaking and writing English

are considered necessary requirements for playing the political game of the American education system. Crying and complaining get you disqualified, but if you appropriate their words of statistics, of fancy book learning, of speaking when it’s your turn, you can play the game of English thrones, and possibly win it. Checkmate by the Angry Minority. E1 to FU. But there’s no prize for winning. The game is played with or without your consent. You are never quite sure who is this year’s gamemaster: is it our schools? is it the media? is it the government? is it you? The rules shift for each player, but one rule remains the same for the minority: you may wear the jersey, but you’re not on our team. I am reminded of this division when my favorite English teacher compliments me for speaking English so well. I am reminded of this in AP Spanish Language, where I’m the one whose accent needs to be Standardized. I am reminded of this when my career counselor tells me I need to italicize the foreign, to separate Spanish from English for the sake of my white interviewers. I am reminded of this when my mother’s misspelled pleas to a lawyer are never answered, but my politely worded complaint earns me a reply… I have been the only person of color in my creative writing courses. I have been the only person writing about persons of color in my creative writing courses. I was never just a writer, but I never wanted to be just anything.

http://thefeministwire.com/2013/03/majoring-in-english/


Recent Changes

Before

Partnership with Tufts University for over 60 years Attendance policy varies class to class Pass/fail credit awarded through review boards Independent study (one on one meetings with a prof.) MFA third year (dedicated to thesis work) for free! Easy to register for classes of high level No mandatory first year / foundation program More studio space available, early in career Classes get cut in the beginning of the semester for low enrollment Equal access to faculty members for review boards Add/drop periods of 2 weeks at the beginning of semesters All school emailing open for anyone to communicate directly with the entire school community An understanding that our school was free of harmful molds.

M o n e y, M o n e y, M o n e y !

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 you 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 need 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. Skowhegan Summer Fellowship Recipient - Scholarship financially supports recipients of the Skowhegan Fellowship. Stephen D. Paine Scholarship - Supports Massachusetts students entering their final year in studio art. Eugene Ward Memorial Scholarship - open to all. $1,000 tuition abatement. Karsh Prize in Photography - awarded to three photographers in the winter. Springborn Fellowship—$25,000 each to two undergraduate students moving into their third year of study.


After According to the SMFA Strategic Plan, starting with the incoming students of 2015, the relationship will begin to phase out. More than two unexcused absences and you can fail Pass/fail credit awarded, essentially, by attendance in class Directed study (group crits and studio hours with a prof ) MFA third year costs $6,000 per semester More prerequisites for high level classes Now, a first year program is required Hard to get studio space before 4th year Classes get cut during pre-registration for low enrollment Undergraduates no longer have access to grad faculty members for review boards Add/drop periods shortened to one week, while allowing longer online registration periods before semester starts

A new online discussion forum replacing all school emails, but topics have to be approved.

Discovery of extremely harmful (black?) mold in ventilation system (unclear current status of mold situation)

SMFA Traveling Fellowships - each award is between $9,000 and $10,000. Boit Award Competition - For independent work completed during previous summer. Dana Pond Competition - Painting competition. Zine Grant - Get $ on a copy card for your zine production on the photocopier. Talk to Darin in the Library for more information. 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. See: http://mysmfa.smfa. edu/ICS/Campus_Life/Art_Submission_and_Fellowship_Announcement_Board.jnz for current art submissions and fellowships deadlines coming up! 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


T i p s o n N a v i g a t i n g Tu f t s Radical Tufts Professors and Courses (from the Tufts 2012 Disorientation Guide): Christina Sharpe (English) - “Black Feminist Theories” and “Queer Diasporas” Jean Wu (American Studies) - “Race in America” Gary Goldstein (Physics) - “Physics for Humanists” Kris Manjapra (History) - “Anti-Colonialism Seminar” Peter Winn (History) - “Revolution in Mexico & Cuba” Gary Leupp (History) - “Gender & Sexuality in Japanese History” Daniel Mulholland (History) - “Marxism” and “1968” Modhumita Roy (English) - “Non-Western Women Writers” Sabina Vaught (Sociology) - “Masculinities in Urban Schooling” Jeanne Penvenne (History) Ryan Centner (Urban Sociology) Sa’ed Atshan (Anthropology) Amahl Bishara (Anthropology) - “Palestinian Literature” Ronna Johnson (English/American Studies) Nancy Bauer (Philosophy) - “Feminist Philosophy” Cathy Stanton (Anthropology) - “Questioning Kinship: Sexuality & Gender in South Asia” Alisha Rankin (History) - “Women, Gender, Family, 1200-1800” Pearl Robinson (Political Science) - “African Politics” Stephan Pennington” - “Black Divas” and “Queer Pop” *“Intro to Queer Studies” *“Class, Race, and Gender in the History of US Education” *Peniel Joseph - “Black Panther Party” *added from the original list Cool Clubs and Spaces (from the Tufts 2012 Disorientation Guide): Women’s Center - ase.tufts.edu/womenscenter Students Acting for Gender Equality - ase.tufts.edu/womenscenter/SAGE VOX: Voices for Choice (Planned Parenthood affiliated student organization) Crafts House - The only cooperative on-campus living option at Tufts. Come here to enjoy a wonderful community meal before or after one of your classes. Tufts Responisble Endowment Collective - Divestment from Fossil Fuels Students for Justice in Palestine Tips for SMFA Students at Tufts: - If you want to take a Tufts class as a first-year, Academic Affairs will persuade you not to, but don’t listen to them. Countless SMFA students regret not taking Tufts courses their first year, and the ones that did, usually recommend it. - If you want to minor in something at Tufts, Academic Affairs will also persuade you not to (unless its Art History or Entrepreneurship). If you start your first or second year, it’s not as hard as it seems to minor at Tufts. If you are having trouble getting information, contact the Tufts department head, and they will help you out. - Normally, the shuttle takes about 45 minutes to get to Tufts. During rush hour though, it can take up to double the amount of scheduled time, so taking the T may be a better option. - The Tufts Shuttle has a phone number, so you can call it if it is running late: 781-369-2500 - Look to take classes at Tufts that are 1-day a week. It is easier to fit into SMFA’s block scheduling. 2-day classes are very doable too, but 3-days a week is nearly impossible. - (SMFA Quick Tips) Use the library, they’re very friendly. Explore mySMFA, it’s a good (but hard to navigate) resource for information in addition to registration. Use SBinc. to fund your clubs and events; it’s a very easy and surprisingly democratic process.


Bookstores

Resources

Lucy Parsons Center - Jamaica Plain: Radical bookstore and community space, movie nights on Wed at 7. Raven Used Books - Newbury Street and Harvard Square 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 Savers - West Roxbury (more online) Cheap thrift stores allied to local charities

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, perfor- mances, 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. Butcher Shoppe (house shows) - Allston

Pe r i o d i c a l s + F o r u m s

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.


Support Groups + Community Ser vices

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center 24-hour hotline: 800.841.8371 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. Democracy Center - Cambridge - provides radical groups with an affordable space for meetings, events, fundraisers, etc. Sprout - Davis Square: For inventive minds who want to learn manual or electronic skills or love science. Adjunct Action - a campaign that unites adjunct professors to address the crisis in higher education and the troubling trend toward a marginalized teaching faculty.

Queer Dance Spaces

Don’t Ask Dont Tell @ Great Scott Queeraoke + Ladies Night at Midway Cafe Allston Jamaica Plain 21+

G a l l e r y S p a c e s S M FA S t u d e n t s H a v e E x h i b i t e d A t Howard Art Project - Dorchester Proof Gallery - South Boston Fourth Wall Projects - Fenway Horticultural Hall - MFA Main Library Hallway Gallery - JP Villa Victoria Center for the Arts - South End

Educational Programs and L ectures

NUCALLS is a student organization at Northeastern University that is dedicated to offering free language classes to the Northeastern community. (Non-northeastern students may also attend, id’s are not required.) http://www.nucalls.neu.edu/ Greater Boston Free School Network has classes that are non-hierarchical between teachers and students who decide the curriculum together http://greaterbostonfreeschool.weebly.com/ QUIRR - Queers United in Radical Rethinking is a non-hierarchical collective of queer and trans students and allies committed to organizing for social and economic justice, that often puts on radical (in both senses of the word) lectures at Northeastern. MIT and Harvard are always having good lectures. Keep updated with their website. Tufts’ American Studies lectures aren’t often, but they are impressive.


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-- JAMES BALDWIN

Our school is in danger of many changes that will undoubtedly t he SMFA community. These c hanges are almost always irrevers so t he time to act is now. We can’t let our voices be silenced. participation is needed to ensure our school does not regress, that it continues to be the school that we know it to be.

harm ible, Your and

The publication of last year’s guide was met with both support and criticism. We want to make it clear t hat if we did not care about this school, we would not be publishing this guide. With hugs and solidarity, Chase Car ter, Wonhee Cho, Margar ita Kr uc hinskaya, and Julia Pimes


2013 SMFA Disorientation Guide - Web Version