USC MFA Class of 2015 Delivers Petition to USC Leadership

by Corinna Kirsch on August 4, 2015 Newswire

USC campus

USC campus

The University of Southern California MFA Class of 2015 continues to stand up for its younger classmates. At the same time as these students graduated, the entire class below them resigned; as we reported this May, the seven students who dropped out claimed the university had reneged on its agreements to fulfill scholarships, teaching assistantships, and benefits.

In the aftermath of the USC Seven’s resignation, the school’s recent graduates have been pressuring the university’s administration to remove the Roski School of Fine Arts Dean Erica Muhl, most recently through an online petition formed on July 16. Today, the students have delivered the 760-plus signatures from the international art community, which includes high-profile names like Anton Vidokle, Catherine Opie, and Martha Rosler, along with a new letter calling for the Dean’s removal, to the USC president, high-ranking staff, and board members.

The petition was initially met just a day later, on July 17, by USC Provost Michael Quick, who defended the actions of the Roski School of Fine Art.

“[Dean Muhl] has explained that the 2014 offer letters sent to them by the school were honored in every respect, without exception,” Quick said. As for the students, he added: “I’m afraid that the students were given very bad advice. We all hope that they will decide to rejoin the school in the future.”

The USC Class of 2015 calls foul in the new letter, saying that by defending administrators, “USC leadership continues to delegitimize our experience as graduate students and irresponsibly minimize the public representation of our colleagues’ withdrawal…As it stands, the disinterest shown by USC to this very real problem will otherwise continue to be seen as an example of resounding negligence in higher education.”

Only one student is enrolled in USC’s MFA program for the fall semester, according to a report from Carolina A. Miranda a the Los Angeles Times.

Below, several responses from signees of the petition demanding Dean Muhl’s resignation:

“The agreement under which students enter school is a contract, not subject to the whims of administrators. The conditions at SC were good for the top administrators, not for the art students.” —Martha Rosler, Berlin

“The trend of paying administration officials more and offering students less is a shame.” —Darryl Allen, Chino Hills, CA

“People in positions of power need to be held accountable for unethical actions. Art students are more important than corporatizing universities.” —J. Schwebel, Germany

“As a former Dean of the USC School of Fine Arts (1981-1987), I am deeply embarrassed by Dean Muhl’s and USC’s shameful treatment of the 7 MFA candidates whose resignations have brought national disgrace upon the once distinguished reputation of USC Roski School of Fine Arts.” —John Gordon, Santa Fe, NM

“The program’s a mess and USC has become a joke of a school within the fine arts. Not to mention that as a result of Muhl’s bait-and-switch tactics, I lost a great roommate who could no longer afford our apartment because she did not receive the funding that was promised to her. Get rid of Erica Muhl!”—Jena Lee, Los Angeles, CA

More news on the USC Seven”

USC MFA Class of 2015 Calls for Resignation of Fine Arts Dean
In Protest of Unethical Treatment, USC’s MFA Students Drop Out of School

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: