The USC Roski Fiasco Points to the Corrosion of Art Education Nationwide

Sean Patrick Carney:

Last month’s bold decision by an entire MFA class to drop out in protest over mistreatment by school administrators dramatically highlights systemic problems in art education from coast to coast.

Seven graduate students at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design left the school on May 15 over the school administration’s changes to their promised funding, faculty and curriculum. The decision, by students Julie Beaufils, Sid Duenas, George Egerton­Warburton, Edie Fake, Lauren Davis Fisher, Lee Relvas, and Ellen Schafer, came as a shock, to say the least.

Over the last several years, USC’s MFA program has been viewed as a model of what a graduate experience in studio art should look like: generous scholarship packages, teaching assistantships with cash awards, close ties to Los Angeles cultural institutions like MOCA, and a who’s-who list of visiting artists and faculty (see Entire 2016 MFA Class Drops Out of USC’s Roski School of Art and Design).

Ten current and former USC faculty members recently issued a statement of support of the students, also calling out the disconnected administration.