Glasgow School of Arts: Watch students peaceful protest as they claim institution has been 'immoral and indefensible'

Students gathered on Monday for a socially distanced protest outside the Glasgow School or Arts, claiming the institution has been ‘immoral and indefensible’.

In an open letter of complaint to the GSA, the students said: “The Covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting strains on higher education, are the fault of no individual or group of individuals.

"However, the institution had over five months to confront the fact that students would be returning to campus in September 2020.

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Students protested outside GSA on Monday.Students protested outside GSA on Monday.
Students protested outside GSA on Monday.

"Neither studios, nor workshops, nor library were prepared for a socially-distanced return to action at the start of the semester.

"This is unacceptable and symptomatic of an institution that is understaffed and lacking the integrity to deal with the current situation while providing the necessary emotional and practical support to its students and staff.

"The notion that it is acceptable to continue charging full price for a practice-based fine art course that is no longer studio- and workshop-based, and which provides no financial or physical alternative for students to access the aforementioned missing components, is immoral and indefensible.”

The students sat, socially distanced, on the Monday morning in the car park of the former Stow College, now part of GSA.

Their signs had slogans including: “Hold GSA accountable” and “we are at school to learn, not pay your debt.”

In their open letter, the students set out a list of complaints that they feel the institution isn’t dealing with, including the lack of workshop access for students, the deterioration of the standard of teaching and the lack of communication about any measurements the school has taken in response to coronavirus.

Students have also claimed that: “the GSA currently has a number of investments managed by Cazenove Capital that indirectly funnel students' money into corrupt industries including the arms trade, oil, gambling, tobacco and pharmaceuticals” which they object to, saying: “the art school ought to be a centre of ecological and moral awareness that not only looks to the future with hope.”

A spokesperson for The Glasgow School of Art said “As this matter is the subject of an official complaint we can’t comment on the specifics. However, we can confirm that receipt of this letter was acknowledged on 2 December and it is now following the clear complaints process which the students are well aware of.

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“Further, the Director of The Glasgow School of Art has a prearranged meeting with student representatives tomorrow to discuss the issues being raised.

“We know how important studio access is for all Art Schools, but we are also living with a virulent virus that has affected many people in many ways, and we have to follow the guidelines being issued by UK and, in particular, the Scottish Government. This is why we introduced timetabled,

socially distanced access as soon as we were able to under these guidelines, and we are committed to enhancing access where possible. Regrettably, for those students in Glasgow who were making use of the on-campus access this has not been possible since 6pm on 20 November as

required by the Scottish Government’s Level 4 restrictions for the city.”

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