Buffalo schools fail kids when teaching that all White people play part in systemic racism: Rufo - Fox News

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Buffalo schools have adopted a curriculum that pushes the controversial idea that all White people perpetuate systemic racism, while 80% of its students fail to reach proficiency in reading and writing, an editor said Wednesday.  City Journal editor Chris Rufo, during an appearance on "The Ingraham Angle," said the "diversity czar" of Buffalo public schools was caught on tape saying she believes that America's sickness leads some White people to believe Black people are less than human.  One of the district's instructional materials also includes the assertion that "all White people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism." He said the narrative of system racism has also spread to schools across the country, which shifts attention away from "their own abysmal failure to educate kids." BUFFALO'S SCHOOL DISTRICT TELLS STUDENTS THAT 'ALL WHITE PEOPLE PLAY A PART IN PERPETUATING SYSTEMIC RACISM' "Woke academics and

LeBlanc says full return to campus next fall seems 'unlikely' - GW Hatchet

LeBlanc says full return to campus next fall seems 'unlikely' - GW Hatchet


LeBlanc says full return to campus next fall seems 'unlikely' - GW Hatchet

Posted: 14 Dec 2020 11:15 AM PST

Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 5:39 p.m.

Based on current data about the COVID-19 vaccine, University President Thomas LeBlanc says a full return to campus next fall seems "unlikely."

LeBlanc said at the Faculty Senate's final meeting of the semester Friday that some faculty, staff and students may not have access to the vaccine by next fall, but officials will likely be able to "do more than we're doing now" on campus. He also confirmed at the meeting that expected layoffs resulting from the pandemic for the fiscal year, which have saved the University $32 million, have concluded.

"Obviously we will have our eyes on a fall reopening if it's possible, and we'll be watching the data very carefully on the distribution of the vaccines and using that to ultimately guide our decision on how we reopen in the fall," LeBlanc said.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the United States could see the "overwhelming majority" of the population vaccinated by the end of the second quarter of 2021. But he said masks and social distancing measures will still be needed throughout 2021 because the vaccine is not 100 percent effective.

LeBlanc said officials saw an increase in requested COVID-19 tests and a "modest" increase in positive cases among the on-campus cohort after Thanksgiving break, which he said is likely tied to an increase in travel around the holiday.

"It looks like there's a slight uptick in our positivity rate, but we have to remember that off-campus students self-select to get tested, and therefore they are kind of a unique population in that regard, a bit of a biased sample," he said.

Provost Brian Blake said at the meeting that officials have finalized certain GW Law courses and courses at the Arlington campus to be held in a hybrid format during the spring semester.

Senators also provided a report on GW's finances for fiscal year 2020 and discussed budget scenarios for the upcoming fiscal year.

Joe Cordes, a faculty senator and a professor of economics, said administrators implemented two phases of budget mitigation in FY20 to deal with the pandemic's financial impact on the University. He said the first phase included 339 layoffs; the elimination of about 150 vacant positions that officials had initially budgeted for, which saved about $47 million; a temporary merit pay freeze, which saved about $15 million; and expense reductions like cutbacks in travel, which saved about $38 million.

He said phase two included the temporary suspension of retirement contributions in August, which saved about $27 million, and expense reductions at the school and unit levels, which saved about $21 million. Cordes said the phase also included using $20 million in "unrestricted assets" that the Board of Trustees made available, but he added that he is not sure if the money came from the endowment, which officials had previously vowed not to tap into in response to the pandemic's financial impacts.

Cordes said officials indicated to him at the time he created his presentation for the report that restoring part of GW's suspension to retirement contributions is a priority in the next fiscal year.

"I'm told that this is highly likely, but it needs to be run by the Board, so that's where we are right now," Cordes said.

He said GW has opportunities going into the next fiscal year to generate more revenue through potential increases in enrollment, which would provide more tuition revenue, and an increase in the University's housing  capacity after Thurston Hall renovations are completed. But he said those goals could also be challenged by national trends indicating a decrease in undergraduate enrollment.

Cordes outlined three scenarios for fiscal year 2021 – a pessimistic scenario in which the University remains fully online, a "moderately optimistic" scenario in which students return to campus and enrollment projections for FY21 remain the same and an optimistic scenario in which enrollment is higher than projected for FY21 and students return to campus.

He said GW's endowment performance should be improving because 25 percent of it was previously invested in private equity, but that amount has decreased to 8 percent. Investment experts have criticized private equity investments for being risky despite their potential for high returns.

"We can hopefully look to improve endowment performance," Cordes said. "We're starting the 200th year campaign, which hopefully will bring in some additional resources."

Cordes also said the A1 credit rating that GW received from Moody's Investors Service in October was better than some of GW's peer schools like the University of Miami and D.C.-area schools like American and Georgetown universities. He said A1 is a "pretty good" rating and is the third-highest rating that GW could have received, with AA being the best possible rating.

"The main thing to look at here is kind of how they've characterized us," Cordes said. "The way I would put it is that our financial situation is very sound, very solid."

He added that Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz said Standard and Poor's, a New York City-based rating agency, will release its own evaluation of GW's credit soon, which he expects to be similar to that of Moody's.

Susan Kulp, a faculty senator and professor of accountancy, said FY20 was the first full year of the Medical Faculty Associates' consolidation with GW, and a "big part" of the University's losses comes from the MFA.

Officials announced in December 2018 that they would restructure the relationship between GW and the MFA to increase the University's decision-making power and provide increased responsibility over the MFA's annual budget and CEO.

She said the University faced a $61 million loss this year, with $43 million coming from the MFA. Kulp said the University faced a loss of only $14 million during fiscal year 2019 since the MFA consolidation occurred after the the year began, demonstrating that the MFA provided a "significant impact" on the University's finances this fiscal year.

Cordes, the faculty senator, said the losses due to the MFA consolidation are likely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic since doctors could not provide certain basic services or elective procedures for some time.

"The hope is that the new arrangement is going to lead to, I would say, better cost and management control, and that should improve matters," he said.

Kulp said officials also changed GW's auditor from PricewaterhouseCoopers to Grant Thornton this fiscal year, which she said is "unusual," but the new auditor has provided better service to GW for a lower cost.

"All accounts are that the new auditor is fabulous and responsive, and this was a GW-initiated process," Kulp said.

Arthur Wilson, the chair of the Faculty Senate executive committee, said executive committee members are working to develop a survey of LeBlanc's leadership and communication abilities after faculty voted to conduct a review of LeBlanc at last month's Faculty Assembly meeting.

Wilson said officials will release the survey "on or about" Tuesday, and it will be open for faculty to fill out for one month. He said officials will make the findings of the survey available "sometime in February."

Senators also unanimously voted to approve the nomination of Tarek El-Ghazawi, a professor of engineering and applied sciences, to the senate's research committee.

Graduate student artists persevere during pandemic and find new inspiration - Penn Today

Posted: 14 Dec 2020 04:00 AM PST

Graduate student artists at Penn are not only adapting to this year's challenges, but discovering new inspiration as they continue to paint, draw, sculpt, perform, photograph, and film during the pandemic.

"You don't stop being an artist because you don't have a studio. You don't stop being an artist because you don't have access to a fabrication lab. Being an artist is much more than material needs and habits. It is about testing the situation that confronts you." says Ken Lum, who is a practicing artist, professor, and chair of the Department of Fine Arts in the Stuart Weitzman School of Design.

"An artist is an artist especially in the face of difficulties. The MFA students have taken it to heart. They have been incredibly resourceful in both their thinking and making of art."

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program is following a hybrid teaching model: Classes continue to be virtual, while studios and fabrication labs that were closed in the spring were reopened before the fall semester. Hours at the studios in the Morgan Building are restricted to reduce the number of people in the building at the same time, available during assigned time blocks on the weekdays, and some Saturdays, as opposed to the usual 24/7 access.

The studio is critical for painter Patricia Renee Thomas, who uses materials that require professional ventilation, like oil paints and spray paints and gouache, and her third-floor rowhouse apartment is not equipped. So while the Morgan studios were closed, she turned her attention to examining surroundings outside in her home city of Philadelphia, and sketching instead of painting.

"All projects came to a halt. The shock of losing access to your work, it's like writing a book and losing the file," says Thomas, in her second year of the two-year MFA degree. "I decided to start completely unrelated bodies of work. I was drawing grass and making studies of ivy. I went old-fashioned. I made visual studies of things I would pass by."

Patricia Renee Thomas painting a canvas in her studio wearing a face mask
Thomas is incorporating the natural world she examined during the summer into her paintings this academic year.

When she returned to the studio to paint again, she didn't finish the pieces there, deciding instead to incorporate her summer discoveries exploring nature in new works. Self-portraits about the Black body and experience—typically defined by a riot of bright pinks, yellows, oranges—now prominently feature various gradients of green in the leaves of plants and trailing vines.

"As artists we all want to ensure that we are talking about things that are happening," Thomas says. "Because our art is a reflection of how we are perceiving the world. If the world is changing, our art changes."

The fine arts fabrication labs in the Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall, with saws and tools and technicians, have been available by appointment, as have the photo darkrooms, this semester. Borrowing camera and video equipment requires reservations and there are limits on the length of the loans.

"There are so many new protocols. The experience is highly compromised, but we've told students they have to concentrate even more: You have to make do. You have these ideas, you have to work with what is available to you," Lum says. "I think it has made them better artists."

Amrita Stützle, an Austrian-born artist who works in photography and video, has been using the darkroom to create her silver gelatin prints, and the studio space to edit her photos and create an installation of video projection incorporating fabric. When the campus closed in the spring, she returned to her home in Syracuse, New York, and went on walks and runs and gardened with her mother.

Amrita Stützle holds a large sheet of prints while wearing a mask in her studio.
Stützle is using her campus studio to edit photographs and create a video installation.

"I felt like everything shifted and understanding what was important before had to be reconsidered," says Stützle, also a second-year MFA student. "Some of that has seeped into what I'm making now, considering the body in a certain landscape, farming, agriculture, spirituality, and in the summer and this fall that became part of my research. What I'm choosing to focus on is directly affected by the moment we are living in."

Currently there are 22 students in the MFA program: 14 are in their second year, and eight in their first year, half the class deciding to defer a year because of the pandemic. Five students are pursuing dual degrees, two through a new collaboration with the School of Social Policy & Practice combining the MFA with a Master of Social Work, and three are pursuing degrees in historic preservation, landscape architecture, and city planning in the Weitzman School.

"Art is about responding creatively to the moment," Lum says. "I have seen the MFAs respond to his difficult moment in the most profound ways."

Artist Kay (Seohyung) Lee, who is from South Korea, usually works on large-scale paintings, but started delving into a variety of other materials before the pandemic. She was completing a large-scale sculpture, covering canvas with sourdough starter that created a cracked, textured surface. Abandoned when the studios closed in the spring, when she returned, it had collapsed.

Kay (Seohyung) Lee, wearing a face mask, paints on a canvas in her studio.
Lee is creating smaller works at her home studio but will continue working on her larger paintings in her campus studio.

"That was so sad to go back to my studio and see the work I had built was ruined," says Lee, also a second-year MFA student. "But that's the risk in working with organic material."

Choosing to create a studio in her apartment during the pandemic, she changed both the size and the subject of her artworks. First, she turned to animation, and then to pencil drawings, now creating works that are about 8-by-10 inches that incorporate her Asian identity.

"I refused to use that as a subject matter for the longest time, but right now I'm working on a series of drawings and paintings at the moment that deals with Asian bodies," she says. "I am making drawings and paintings that consist of multiple clones of myself, Asian girls encountering chaos and havoc in this natural setting."

The new series, she says, is reflecting her fears of the coronavirus and also the discrimination she feels being Asian during the pandemic. Titled Hellscape, the series is "mostly expressing my discomfort and dissatisfaction with spaces around me, spaces around my body, my culture, my religion. It helps me process all these things going in my head."

Lee plans to continue the large paintings when she regularly returns to the campus studio, but in the meantime she says she is "using this time to try new things I've never done before."

The MFA program encourages interdisciplinary study and experimenting with various forms of art making. "A student has license to experiment, and they should take advantage of that," Lum says. "We are not an art school. We are an art department within a world-leading research university."

Patricia Renee Thomas, Amrita Stützle and Kay (Seohyung) Lee, each seated in their own studios.
Master of Fine Arts students Patricia Renee Thomas, Amrita Stützle, and Kay (Seohyung) Lee in their Morgan Building studios on Penn's campus.

The students say they are finding the videoconference course sessions to be collaborative, and the time at home efficient for their research. Some classes have been surprisingly successful precisely because they are online, Lum says. One that has been a big hit this semester, he says, is Art World Exchange: Major curators, artists, and writers spoke to the class through videoconference.

"Without the pandemic, most of them would have said no. But now they deploy their smartphones and are able to offer an intimate tour of their work in their studio. A convivial context is created whereby they respond to student questions in a more personal way, despite the mediation of a computer screen." Lum says. "Artists want to do this. They want to share their work. They want to show others how they have responded to the moment."

The chance to gather together to show their work and get feedback from faculty and fellow students, called critiques, is what the students say they are missing the most, now possible only through videoconference. Also they are disappointed that they cannot display their work to the public in the end-semester art shows.

A thesis statement, portfolio, and exhibition are the foundation of the MFA degree requirements.

In early 2021, the Department will be launching a virtual exhibition space for both graduate and undergraduate fine arts students, to show this year's work. In the spring, Lum says Penn will partner with seven other universities to create 2020 MFA, a virtual exhibition space, and in May or June create an in-person exhibition in New York City.

The artworks he expects will be different than other years, and will reflect the experience of the pandemic. "I think it is better because it has tested them," Lum says. "For a young artist still in formation that is a valuable experience to go through."

Homepage image: MFA student Patricia Renee Thomas is working on an oil painting of herself in a ghillie suit, which is used for camouflage.

A large bright painting on canvas by MFA student Patricia Renee Thomas
Patricia Renee Thomas: "Camouflage," 2020, oil and spray paint on canvas. (Image: courtesy of Kravets-Wehby Gallery)


Patricia Renee Thomas

Philadelphia-born and raised, Thomas has been drawing and painting since she was a child, focused on what she calls the "investigation of skin."

"I was aware of colorism growing up as not very fair for a Black person. I started early in the research of the demonizing of dark skin," she says. "I was hyper-aware of the skin before I knew the nuances of what that meant."

In undergraduate school at Temple University's Tyler School of Art and Architecture, she studied depictions of Black people in advertisements from the Jim Crow era to today's social media, and incorporated what she discovered in her paintings.

"I wanted to redefine this visual language for myself so it doesn't hurt me so much. It became a conduit to investigate other things," she says. Right before the pandemic, she had an exhibition of her work at the Kapp Kapp Gallery in Philadelphia, which she describes as a body of work about the visual and laborious process of doing a set of African-American hair.

During the early months of the pandemic, Thomas ventured outside to reconsider her relationship with nature "and why I don't trust it very much." When she returned to the studio on Penn's campus her new work is seen "through the language of nature and motivated by my memory and body's relationship to it, and color, lots of color," she says.

"I think it is something very primal to have this connection with trees and fresh air. I haven't taught myself how to be immersed in it," she says. "I'll take myself on a hike and I still don't love it. I don't feel protected. Who is allowed to be in these spaces and be protected?"

She recounts the episodes of Black people being questioned, whether in Central Park or the wilds of the woods. "In my paintings I am investigating myself in these places," she says. "With COVID, I was thinking about the healing abilities of nature and how I want to access that."

Oil and guache painting titled Wissahickon by Kay Seohyung Lee.
Kay (Seohyung) Lee: "Wissahickon," 2020, gouache on paper, from the "Hellscape" series. (Image: courtesy of the artist)


Kay (Seohyung) Lee

It was not only the chance, but the encouragement, to experiment with new art forms that brought Lee to Penn, also drawn by the diversity of the faculty.

"I wanted to make sure I was in a grad program where I felt safe and comfortable expressing things I believe in, and have them be met with some degree of understanding," she says.

Department Chair Ken Lum and sculptor Michelle Lopez, have been particularly supportive, she says. "We have that common knowledge of being an Asian artist in the U.S. right now. They help me to think about how to fight against the bias we face and really helped me focus on being an artist."

Witnessing hostilities against Asians around the world during the pandemic, she says has not felt safe, a "terrifying feeling" that she poured into her artwork and research, resulting in her new series titled Hellscape that features female Asian bodies.

Lee was born and raised in Seoul and she went to high school and college in the United States, graduating with a fine arts degree from Washington University.

Throughout her studies at Penn, she says, the Fine Arts faculty has been encouraging her to try various artforms. Professor Joshua Mosely, she says, led her to animation. Professor Sharon Hayes urged her to experiment with video and performance. Lopez supports her work in sculpture. Lum suggested public art is her calling.

"I have thought of myself as a painter for so long," she says. "I have never done any of these before, but they are always encouraging me to try something new. It is incredible to see how this program encourages you to fail and to learn from that and take that to another place."

Lee will be teaching Drawing 1 to undergraduates in the spring, which is the first class she took in fine arts: "It is just full circle."

Two black and white photos side by side by MFA student Amrita Stützle.
Amrita Stützle: Stills from her 2020 short film, "The Gardens of the West." (Images: courtesy of the artist)

Amrita Stützle

Combining her Austrian roots with her Upstate New York upbringing and her appreciation for family land in eastern Washington, Stützle says her international outlook makes its way into her work as she tries to examine aspects of identity.

A photography major at Syracuse University, after graduation she worked at a small nonprofit that supports emerging photographers, for five years assisting other artists. Primarily she worked as a printmaker and built educational programming.

Stützle decided to continue her own artistic education at Penn to focus on her practice as a photographer and video artist, but also expand upon those pursuits. She had considered taking her work into installation and sculpture, but the pandemic precluded that opportunity.

"Finally at this point in time I am getting excited about what I have been making," she says. "I am choosing to work more with agriculture, and considering the land, which is more possible at this time than working with people. What I'm choosing to focus on is directly affected by the moment we are living in."

A storyboard up in her studio on campus, she says she's been working on a film about the land in Washington, the agricultural business there now, and the use of the land in the past. She is researching Depression-era photographer Dorothea Lange, she says, thinking about how agriculture was used as a justification for colonization of the West.

Regularly shooting photographs and sifting through those she took during the summer, she is considering creating a book. She will be teaching a photography course to undergrads in the summer 2021 semester.

"This is a moment of recalibration. Honestly considering why we make work, what work is important to make now, and what is driving us, has been something really fruitful," she says. "In terms of making work for my thesis, I feel like I've pushed myself, and I hope to push myself more in the spring, and hopefully the work reflects that."

Amrita Stützle in her studio with back turned to camera pins a grid of images to her wall.
 Stützle with a storyboard of her photographs in her campus studio.

No Filmmaking at Film School: Administrative Policies Make Production Impossible - CU Columbia Spectator

Posted: 13 Dec 2020 09:59 PM PST

Columbia School of the Arts promotes its film master's degree program with a skillfully produced trailer that offers a seductive sales pitch to prospective applicants. The school boasts that students' films play at "every major film festival you can think of: Telluride, Berlin, South by Southwest and Tribeca, Cannes." Deans and professors tout the program's focus on practical training and portfolio development set students up for industry success: The school proudly announces that students are "making things from the first day they come here and they're making things as they walk out the door."

Above all, the trailer stresses that students continue collaborating and connecting after they receive their degrees. "The key thing in a film program is the community of filmmakers … all collaborating together" and "pulling each other onto jobs" once they enter the profession, the trailer says. When Columbia film students enroll, this is the experience that they sign up for.

But the pandemic and Columbia's response has upended that vision. While students across Columbia's schools are frustrated with the shift to remote learning, film students have been hit particularly hard. Unlike a strictly academic program that can be adapted to fit remote learning, the film school relies on hands-on training and in-person experiences. After almost two semesters of online learning, students have

limited access to equipment, collaboration with peers, and the actual process of filming simply cannot be replicated in a digital space.

Film schools across the country have taken vastly different approaches to how they adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. The American Film Institute Conservatory, a graduate film school in Los Angeles, for example, developed thorough guidelines that allow it to continue providing equipment and socially distanced film sets for its students.

Columbia, however, went in a completely different direction.

When the pandemic first hit, Columbia's buildings closed indefinitely, including the Nash Building, which houses the film equipment Master of Fine Arts students use for production. For months, students had no access to essential filmmaking equipment from the University.

This semester, the film school reopened that facility at limited capacity, allowing students living in the New York City area to borrow cameras, lights, and other crucial resources. But other barriers to filmmaking remain. Columbia opted against providing COVID-19-safe film sets like some of its film school counterparts; instead, students in the United States are only permitted to film inside property owned or rented by a member of the cast or crew , however small or poorly ventilated they may be. For some students, that restriction renders filming impossible.

At the same time, the University increased the program's tuition from $68,759 to $71,040. The school offers limited need-based scholarships, and there are no policies that allow for students to take a voluntary leave of absence. While there was an increase in the master's program tuition, all Columbia and Barnard undergraduates saw a tuition freeze for the 2020-2021 school year. Those students also received a rebate on their Morningside Heights or Student Life fee, of about $144.

In a statement to Spectator, a University spokesperson stated that "The School of the Arts has taken extraordinary steps to support students pursuing an MFA in filmmaking." In addition to citing general emergency grants for graduate students and access to University COVID-19 testing, the statement referenced an additional stipend offered to film students to help cover production costs. There was no statement provided as to why the program saw an increase in tuition.

But some students say it has not been enough. That particular stipend was announced in early December and provides a maximum of $2,000 for thesis films, which typically cost upward of $25,000. With limited options to work on their projects, students worry about what the University's response will mean for their educational experience and career prospects.

"I came to make films and I can't do that," creative producing candidate Donovan Tolledo says. "That's the only reason why I'm here and paying far more than all these other schools."

***

Masters of Fine Arts programs at the School of the Arts generally follow a conservatory model, meaning that actual artistic practice, including filmmaking, acting, and visual art, is the core component of the curriculum, more so than history and theory—topics much more easily adapted to remote learning. Columbia has faced criticism for its attempts to adapt fine arts programs to the COVID-19-safe world since the outset of the pandemic.

Last March, more than 80 undergraduate and master's students in the visual arts programs wrote a letter of protest to University President Lee Bollinger and visual arts department heads decrying many similar issues to what film students have identified. They called for a tuition refund and for the School to halt remote visual art classes. None of these demands were met.

As an aspiring producer, Tolledo was particularly drawn to Columbia's hands-on approach. Unlike other film production master's programs, Columbia's expands beyond business and financial skills associated with the role of a producer. He was eager to learn how to engage with the creative side of filmmaking and take courses that taught him the ropes of directing and screenwriting. With such expansive training, he hoped to produce the thoughtful Asian American stories he so lacked in his youth.

The final project after the first two years as a master's student, called the "courseworks years," is an eight- to 12-minute short film. Most of this year's projects have been postponed or severely limited. Ordinarily, master's students would already collaborate in classes and build a team of collaborators for their culminating projects.

Tolledo isn't making a short film this year. He is stuck in his hometown of Chicago, almost 800 miles from the equipment he would normally be able to access as a Columbia film student. His only other option under Phase I production restrictions would be to pay for cameras and lighting himself.

"They said you can use your own equipment … [but] I don't have any money," Tolledo says. "I'm going to use my phone and the quality of what I'm going to do is essentially a TikTok video."

The restrictions also require productions to take place at an "at-home" location owned or rented by a member of the cast or crew. Sets are limited to six people including an approved health and safety manager, whom the production team is responsible for finding on their own.

To Tolledo, these restrictions make little sense; if anything, they curtail relatively safe methods of filming, but allow higher-risk activities. Filming in a cramped apartment without enough room for minimum social distancing is permitted, but shooting in an open forest is forbidden. The restrictions also create an accessibility issue: Students with large residences or the financial means to rent spaces have more opportunities to create a compelling film than those in smaller spaces. With COVID-19 more likely to spread in a confined setting, Tolledo questions whether it is worth risking his health to create a film in his Chicago apartment.

Tolledo also saw his "eight-to-12" as the opportunity to access the training and collaborators that he could apply to his thesis film; without it, he worries that he will not be able to find a crew to depend on. Moreover, the shift to remote learning means he is neither in the room learning how to work with film equipment, nor is he learning to work with actors or directors.

"By the time [we start] the thesis films next year, we won't have the actual practice on set to actually do it," Tolledo says.

Students in their thesis years, during which they put their knowledge to use and build film portfolios, face even larger hurdles when mounting productions.

The School of Arts created the option of a virtual thesis in which students outline their process for what would otherwise be a fully-fledged film; as part of this process, they mock up shooting plans, estimated budgets, and storyboards. In practice, students say this adaptation reduces the thesis project to a film proposal, which means that many third- and fourth-years will leave Columbia without the films they came to make. They are also missing the opportunities to take these films to global festivals where they are ultimately picked up for distribution, something many considered a crucial component of their film school experience.

With such a gap between students' abilities to secure equipment or film in their personal residence, the difference between making a film this year or settling for a virtual adaptation often comes down to how much money they can spend on top of tuition and living expenses.

"Imagine a world where only rich people could make art. Is this the world that Columbia wants?" Munir Atalla, a second-year creative production student, asks. "Should only people with access to resources be allowed to make film?"

This is not the first time the School of Arts has come under fire for issues with accessibility.

"The issues of the program being sexist, classist, racist, etc.—those things have been raised by students and classes before us and things that our class has organized around pre-pandemic," Atalla says. "But this pandemic has definitely exacerbated those issues."

In 2018, students in the School of the Arts' visual arts programs demanded full refunds and spoke out about decrepit studio spaces in Prentis Hall and prestigious faculty members who were mysteriously absent from teaching roles. Earlier that year, a photography professor resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. John Coatsworth, the University provost at the time, acknowledged that the quality of the program was a "disgrace." Despite this, the University opted against returning or reducing students' tuition.

When Jackie Todd, a third-year producing student, needed an unexpected surgery last summer, tuition was a considerable burden on top of her medical bills, leaving her anxious about her future financial situation.

Despite coming to Columbia to create films, Todd admits that the fact that production is nearly impossible has provided her financial relief. "[The administration] is not really willing to bend and work with students to make a plan that is more financially reasonable for them. For me, not making a film this year is great, because then I wouldn't have to spend money on it," Todd says.

"We're listening to our students and what they want to talk about" is one of the closing lines to the school's trailer. It's a glittering promise that Columbia will stand by your side.

For Todd, this simply is not true. "We're the customers," she says. "And it felt like they just decided to not give a shit that we are customers expecting a certain level of dedication, a certain level of communication, a certain level of product—which is our education."

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