Please sign petition: Rutgers Art Students Need Safe Studios
Student safety is a priority for all of the Rutgers community. When a curriculum requires hands-on activity with hazardous materials, equipment and techniques, no effort should be spared.
In the sculpture program at Mason Gross School of the Arts graduate and undergraduate students learn and create in many different media. The Livingston Art Building houses the sculpture studios including a complete wood shop, welding shop, foundry and ceramics facilities . OSHA and EPA set the standards for safety in these processes. Sculpture students may be inexperienced in the use of power tools, high-temperature processes like welding, metal casting and firing kilns, safe use of toxic glazes and pigments, use of the correct Personal Protective Equipment.
The union Health and Safety committee has brought to the attention of MGSA and Rutgers Environmental Health & Safety the need to maintain and improve safety and training for our students. This year, important steps were made in training and compliance. All these culminated recently in a positive report by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design— part of a new accreditation which will add to the prestige of the Visual Arts program at Mason Gross.
Now, progress is threatened by the news that the Visual Arts Coordinator –who is responsible for operation of this complex group of studios, as well as training of students, record-keeping for OSHA and EPA compliance, and equipment repair – is being laid off.
The Visual Arts department say they must cut costs by hiring a part-timer to replace the full-time Visual Arts Coordinator and student assistants. It is hard to see how an adequate level of safety can be maintained with reduced resources.
Like science or medicine and even football, sculpture is a discipline with fixed costs. Cutting costs on safety will not produce better results.
We urge Dean George Stauffer and Visual Arts Department Chair Gerry Beegan to restore the full-time Visual Arts coordinator to the Sculpture program.