Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Senior art majors panhandle for funding N.Y.C. trip

While most of Whitman adds a few extra hours to their library routine to accommodate the pre-Thanksgiving rush, senior art majors are getting ready for the annual trip to New York City. Unfortunately, preparing for New York involves more than hunting down hip shoes: the fourteen senior art majors also have to come up with over $500 each to help cover trip expenses.

“They just got a new $15 million art building. Clearly there’s money to support the arts at Whitman. People just aren’t trying hard enough for this,” said senior art major Meghan Urback.

The trip has been going on for around ten years and is considered a selling point of the studio
art major. “Students who have attended have said that it was one of the most important aspects of their art education at Whitman,” wrote art department chair Charles Timm-Ballard in an e-mail to the senior art majors.

“The things that students see, hear, and experience in New York change the way that they understand art and the world,” said Timm-Ballard in the same e-mail.

Yet despite the importance of the trip, only $3600 of the students’ costs are paid for. The other $8,758 was left to the art majors to come up with on their own.

Until this year, the trip was required. After students raised concerns that a required, academic
trip that involves missing a week of classes was not fully funded the department’s response
was to make the trip officially not required.

“They’ve officially made the trip no longer required, but it makes no sense since in their words it’s a “fundamental capstone” of the art major experience at Whitman,” said Urback. “[The trip] is part of senior seminar and there are assignments based off of it for the class.”

Senior art majors Urback, Brett Muckler and Rachel Stein petitioned ASWC and were able to secure another $100 per student.

However ASWC made it clear that while they wanted to help the students out, it wasn’t ASWC’s
role to fund a trip that should be covered by the art department. Other attempts to secure funding from the president’s office, the Dean of Students, the Dean of Faculty and the art department were unsuccessful.

“Every year it’s a problem, but nobody really knows about it. So when they do find out about it senior year, it’s too late for anything to be done about it so nothing ever gets done,” said Urback.

In the 2001-02 school year a $5,200 annual fund was set up for the trip. The two faculty who accompany the trip receive $1600 of this money to help defray their costs. The rest goes to students, but was never intended to cover the entire cost of the trip. In more recent years the cost of air travel, lodging, food and museums has risen as have the number of studio art majors, spreading the money thinner.

According to Timm-Ballard, he has made several unsuccessful attempts to request more money for the trip from the budget committee.

Art majors expressed confusion that this fundamental academic trip is less than half funded despite extensive effort on the part of several students while many other trips receive perks such as $75 per person, per day for food, and non-required conferences all over the country are easily funded.

“It discourages against people who financially afford to do this,” said Urback. While all students
are going on this year’s trip, coming up with the funds for the trip was not easy for more than a few students.

Efforts are being made to inform next year’s senior art majors about the costs and bureaucracy
of the trip so they have more time to come up with the money for the trip.

“The money either needs to come from the department or they need to set up a realistic fund for the trip,” said Urback. “The whole thing is just so uncharacteristic; it just doesn’t make sense with the spirit of Whitman.”

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