Last Hurrah

SFUAD Dean of Academic Affairs Brad Bergsbaken encourages students to offer their ideas for the remaining semesters. Photo by Chris Dorantes

As students enter into their last year at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, uncertainty seems to be one of the major feelings on campus. Whether about transcripts or student facilities, many students aren’t sure what lies ahead for this important year in their college careers. SFUAD Dean of Academic Affairs Brad Bergsbaken wants to put some of those fears to rest.

“Obviously, the current situation is unfortunate,” Bergsbaken says. “None of us spent the time building the things that we built here to see them go away, but given the circumstances, what the university has done is ensure that at least the seniors make it through.” Currently, primarily seniors who have 36 or less credits left are still studying at the college. Bergsbaken said that this credit cap was made in order to create “feasible semesters,” in which students would not be taking 20-26 credits in addition to summer classes in order to graduate on time. He told Jackalope that a schedule like that would be a disservice to the student.

“This is really a ‘one and done’ situation in that we will offer the classes for you to graduate but if you don’t pass those classes, there’s a good chance those classes won’t be offered again.” Bergsbaken added that while the school didn’t turn students who had more than 36 credits away, that they were dissuaded from coming back as it might not feasible for them to graduate in time. Not only would it be difficult to graduate with so many credits left, junior year tends to be when credits become harder to transfer to other universities. If students were to not be able to finish their degree here, but decided to stay anyway, their graduation may be delayed at another university. This is another reason why rising juniors were dissuaded from returning to SFUAD for the 2017-18 year.

While the student body is dramatically reduced this semester (163 students), Bergsbaken reports that he’s seen a lot of positivity on campus. “There isn’t this focus on negativity anymore. People are… making the best of a challenging situation, but a situation that I think can be meaningful to people involved,” Bergsbaken said. He added that while it might feel like there are less opportunities for students now that the school is ending, the opposite might actually be true. “If you have something you want to do, come talk to us [in Mouton].” While there are budget constraints, Bergsbaken is still urging students to come forward with ideas for things they want to do on campus. “I had a student in [my office] earlier who wants to put on a play on the Quad and we’re figuring out how to help her with that. None of us want to say no.” he said. Student Life will also be hosting lots of events that students can get involved in, headed by Student Life Coordinator Malcom Morgan.

Students gather for a beginning of the year meeting in the Forum. Photo by Chris Dorantes

Bergsbaken said at a recent Convocation meeting with the student body that the budget this year is focused on providing content quality in the classroom, which explains some of the cuts to student facilities this year. While the school tried to negotiate with the catering service Bon Appetit on a price that would allow students to still eat from the cafeteria, an agreement couldn’t be reached. Therefore, students living on campus were moved to the apartments where they are able to cook their own food (link to Melissa’s article.) Security has also been reduced to three guards on duty at a time. Security Director Ryan Davis said at Convocation that less attention will be spent on having someone at the front gate of campus at all times. This is in order to make guards more accessible to students and keep them patrolling.

One student facility that was rumored to be closing is in fact staying open. The Driscoll Fitness Center will continue to operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m Monday-Friday., staffed entirely by student workers. “We were originally going to close the DFC, but Malcom [Morgan] explained how important it was to keep it open for the students and now we’ve figured out a way to keep it,” says Bersbaken. Mouton employees may also take shifts at the DFC in order to insure it stays open.

With the announcement of budget cuts, a rumour went around campus that the school was selling equipment. Bergsbaken wants to assure students that this is false. “Someone called me the other day wanting to buy the costumes from the PAD department and I told them ‘No! We’re still using those!’” Not only is the school dedicated to providing all of the equipment the school has to its students, even if they wanted to sell anything belonging to the school, they legally couldn’t as the City of Santa Fe owns assets in the school. Another rumor that Bergsbaken wanted to dispel is that the school will be closing before May of 2018. “The lease is good until June,” he says.

While this may be a difficult semester, students should be assured that with this year still comes opportunities for new projects, growth and could make for a really great senior year. Bergsbaken challenges students to be even more creative this year and to communicate any difficulties to the staff in Mouton. “If you’re feeling uncertain, come in and talk to us.”