By Sutton Eaves
Changes in the course curriculum for Communication and Design programs have sparked outcry amongst Image Arts students.
The changes, a result of the mandated budget cuts delivered to every Ryerson program last spring, included reducing course hours for Journalism, Image Arts and Graphic Communications Management students. However, reaction has been most adverse to the elimination of Canadian Cultural Studies, a previously required third-year Image Arts class.
“The university is conforming to the demands of the private and public investors,” said Alex Lisman, RyeSAC v.p. Education.
“The university doesn’t have the backbone to approach the federal and provincial government for funding.”
A petition entitled “Save Cultural Studies” has been circulating around campus since the decision was made. It’s a student-driven initiative to save the only remaining cultural studies class in Images Arts, said Lisman.
Brian Damude, chair of the School of Image Arts, justified the chop, saying that cultural studies material is covered in the mandatory history classes Image Arts students must take over their four years.
“The students have too many classes as it is,” said Damude. “We’re giving them far more than many universities in terms of hours.”
He admitted that the class was originally offered to make work for a senior professor who specialized in cultural studies. Upon recent examination, however, the school agreed that the content was a little redundant.
Damude said the instructor of the Canadian Cultural Studies course, Hugh Innis, has restructured the class into a one-term elective so that students who wish to take it still can.
Vince Carlin, chair of the School of Journalism, says the curriculum changes are part of a much needed and major restructuring of the curriculum in his school.
“The cost of delivering education is a lot higher than what is provided through government grants.”
However, Carlin criticizes across-the-board cuts, saying they penalize both unsuccessful and successful programs.
“It’s ridiculous. If things are that bad, you sit down and pick your targets. There are programs that are fantastically successful. Why would you penalize them all equally?”
The curriculum shuffle was proposed by Ira Levine, Dean of Communication and Design, and approved at last December’s Academic Council meeting.
Students and staff agree that the effects of this first, across-the-board cut are only an indication of what is to come.
“We’re pretty close to a boiling point. Soon, course could be disappearing. As soon as we do that, or cut down professors, that’s when we’ll know we’re in big trouble,” said Carlin.