No end in sight as powerful student group shoots down Quebec Government’s offer

MONTREAL—One of Quebec’s most powerful student groups shot down Premier Jean Charest’s revised offer on tuition fees on Sunday, putting an end to whatever hope remained of a quick resolution to the province’s ongoing protests.

The C.L.A.S.S.E. student federation voted against Charest’s proposal to stretch the $1,625 tuition increase over seven years instead of five and boost the loans-and-bursaries program.

The decision was hardly a surprise coming from the hardline group, which has pushed for a continued freeze on tuition levels .It appears protesters will follow Charest on the two-hour trip northeast. A student group declared in a tweet Sunday they would shuttle students there by bus.

April 30, 2012

Malaysian students in Taiwan call for clean elections back home

TAIPEI—Approximately 500 Malaysian students in Taiwan held a rally in Taipei on Saturday, calling for clean elections in their home country and urging greater international pressure to achieve that goal in the next

The rally, one of three held in Taiwan the same day, was part of the Bersih 3.0 demonstration in more than 20 countries on Saturday to call for clean and fair elections in Malaysia.

The other two rallies in Taiwan took place in Hualien and Tainan. anthem.

They called for the Election Commission of Malaysia to resign and the government to allow international observers into the country for the 13th general election, which is scheduled to take place before the end of 2013.

The protestors also said that several electoral reforms mentioned in a 2011 rally should be carried out before the next election. The proposed reforms include a cleanup of electoral rolls, reforms in postal voting, the use of indelible ink to prevent electoral fraud, extension of the campaign period from the current 10 days to 21 days, and fair access to mainstream media.

April 30, 2012

David Weiss of Fischli/Weiss Has Died at 66

ZURICH—Art in America has confirmed that David Weiss, half of the artist-duo Fischli/Weiss, died this morning, age 66. According to his New York gallery Matthew Marks, Weiss had been undergoing treatment for cancer since September of last year. “It was more advanced than anyone realized,” said gallery director Stephanie Dorsey.

The prolific Swiss artists have collaborated on films, photos, slide projections, sculptures and artists books since 1979. Known for their DIY spirit, the pair incorporated any material that crossed their paths—from foodstuffs to magazine ads, old furniture to touristy snapshots—into their multidisciplinary projects.

Fischli/Weiss’s first project together was the 1979 series “Sausage Photographs,” in which the artists designed scenes like a carpet-shopping excursion and the aftermath of a car crash using carefully arranged and occasionally anthropomorphic cocktail wieners, mini gherkins, sliced lunchmeat and smoldering cigarette butts. One of their most beloved projects is the playful, complex 30-minute film The Way Things Go (1987), a Rube Goldberg-esque chain reaction of everyday objects falling into each other, occasionally leading to small fires or explosions.

More recently, in 2009–10, Fischli/Weiss had three simultaneous shows at Matthew Marks’s Chelsea galleries, which included Sun, Moon and Stars, a new installation of over 800 advertisements culled from international magazines.

April 27, 2012

V.C.U. Turns to Steven Holl Architects for New Arts Center

VIRGINIA—Virginia Commonwealth University has long been one of the leading public university graduate arts and design programs in the country. Now it also wants to be a cultural destination for audiences and performers. The university on Wednesday unveiled the design for a new $32 million Institute for Contemporary Art, designed by Steven Holl and Chris McVoy of Steven Holl Architects. Calling the 38,000-square-foot building “part exhibition and performance space, part lab and incubator,” the university said the institute will feature a series of flexible programming spaces for visual art, theater, music, dance and film.There will be an auditorium with more than 240 seats, a sculpture garden, classrooms and a cafe.

The project is scheduled to open in 2015; $14 million has been raised so far. A search for a director is underway, and the university hopes to break ground in 2013. Mr. Holl also designed the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City; the School of Art & Art History at the University of Iowa; and an expansion for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His design will be presented in an exhibition opening April 26 at the Meulensteen gallery in New York.

April 26, 2012

Columbia University Expansion Continues

NEW YORK—Columbia, the fifth-oldest U.S. college, was scouting new sites to expand as it outgrew its century-old, Beaux-Arts home in Morningside Heights. Above 125th Street in West Harlem, Bollinger could saw the ideal location for a modern urban campus, stretching from the elevated subway line on Broadway with its monumental steel trestles to the West Side Highway next to the Hudson River.

Bollinger, who will complete 10 years in office this June, has elevated Columbia, spearheading a $5 billion fundraising campaign, installing a new endowment team that produced the Ivy League’s best returns, and poaching faculty that have drawn record numbers of applicants and further opened the spigot of federal research dollars. Underlining these advances has been his single-minded determination to expand the campus even in the face of neighborhood and some faculty dissent.

After buying almost all the land it wants in the neighborhood known as Manhattanville, Columbia is clearing the site for a nine-story science center with 70 labs scheduled to open in 2016, the first of 16 new buildings set for the area. The progress contrasts with New York University, where Bollinger’s contemporary John Sexton has seen an ambitious growth plan in Manhattan’s historic Greenwich Village bogged down by community opposition and Harvard University where President Drew Faust suspended an expansion in Boston after suffering steep investment losses in 2008.Yet the focus on growth, including setting up seven Columbia centers in major cities from Beijing to Istanbul, has opened Bollinger to criticism that he is shortchanging undergraduate studies on the existing campus.

April 26, 2012

Arts Endowment Trims Support for PBS Shows

U.S.A—The National Endowment for the Arts made sweeping cuts in its support of established PBS shows in the 2012 Arts in Media grants, which were announced Wednesday morning. Instead, the endowment awarded large grants to an array of gaming and Web-based projects.

The projects include a University of Southern California video game based on the writings of Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond; a Web-based program from the Odysseus Group of New York City called Power Poetry, which encourages young people to express themselves via mobile texting; and the Flea Theater’s production of a new play using interactive technology.

Overall, the N.E.A. made 78 grants, compared with 64 in 2011, totaling $3.55 million, compared with $4 million last year. Of the 360 applicants, 329 were deemed viable; in 2011, there were about 150 applicants. Fourteen grantees had never received N.E.A. funds before.

April 25, 2012

Cooper Union to Charge Tuition for Graduate Students

NEW YORK—After months of agonized debate about its 110-year-old tradition of free education, Cooper Union will begin charging graduate students next year while maintaining, at least for now, its no-tuition policy for undergraduates, the college’s president said Tuesday.

Cooper Union, in the East Village, will also expand its graduate and other programs to generate more income as it searches for a way out of a deepening financial hole. Jamshed Bharucha, who became president last July, said in October that the institution had no choice but to consider making students pay, prompting a storm of protest from some students, alumni and faculty, who saw the idea as a violation of Cooper Union’s core principles.

The plan announced on Tuesday stopped far short of broad-based tuition, which might have been the simplest and surest route to financial stability. It also fell short of meeting the fiscal target that Cooper Union set last fall. In an interview, Dr. Bharucha made it clear that the college may yet have to be more aggressive about raising revenue.

Undergraduate students who begin college in September 2013 will not pay tuition during their four years at Cooper Union, Dr. Bharucha said, but so far, the institution has made no commitments for those who follow them.

April 25, 2012

Quebec education minister calls for truce with student strikers

QUEBEC—The Quebec government is showing signs of buckling under the pressure of a 10-week student strike over a planned tuition-fee hike. After several weeks of balking at holding a full meeting with the students, Education Minister Line Beauchamps agreed to meet them, though not before they agreed to call a 48-hour truce to the social unrest that has recently sparked violent clashes with police.

The three student associations agreed to the truce, embracing the chance to make their case for a freeze on tuition fees and to examine other means of financing the cash-strapped universities.

The minister even agreed to extend the invitation to the most militant of the student associations, the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, or CLASSE, which had refused to condemn the violent confrontations as demanded by Ms. Beauchamps. On Sunday, the group agreed to condemn certain violent acts but still support civil disobedience.

April 24, 2012

Chile begins implementing education reforms demanded by massive student protests

CHILE—The Education minister met with President Sebastián Piñera in the presidential palace to present a package of reforms, which includes the exclusion of banks from the scholarship system in exchange for a single system of state-provided credit; changes in the requirements for scholarship access for poor students; and a new means of financing the gap between actual and reference tariffs, which are projected figures for the cost of a degree, as well as a better system of calculating reference tariffs.

Under the old system, banks facilitated the access of the middle classes to private universities through the Crédito con Aval del Estado (CAE), a program of state-guaranteed credit, established in 2007. The loans came with an interest rate of almost 6%, three times what some public universities charge their students through their internal loan systems. This situation resulted in students graduating from university with large amounts of debt. Estimates place the number of students currently in debt through this system at 350,000. These students supposedly accrue an average of 100.00 dollars each by the end of their studies.

The new credit system will be administered by the government and have a single interest rate of 2% a year. This will be the case for nine out of 10 students from both private and public institutions, excluding only the richest 10%. This change in the system will ensure that funding goes directly to students without involving third party institutions such as banks. With this new reform, recipients of the loans will only have to pay the money back once they start earning. Bayer said the payments will not exceed 10% of the student’s future income.

In Chile there is a point system based on the University Selection Test (PSU) for access into university. With the new reforms the requirement for merit-based grants and scholarships will also now depend on the socio-economic background of the student. This measure would be applied this coming academic year in 2012 for first year students and could benefit more than 15,000 students .President Piñera was positive about the announcements and hinted at further reform to school and pre-school education that shows the government’s commitment to change at all levels of education.

April 24, 2012

Major Periodical Subscriptions Cannot Be Sustained

BOSTON—Harvard University’s faculty has taken a public stand against commercial journals that sell subscription “bundles” as a way to get libraries to spend more on journal subscriptions than they otherwise might. In a memo, addressed to the campus and posted on the Harvard Library website, the library’s Faculty Advisory Council said the amount the university spends on subscription “bundles” is approaching $3.75 million. “The Faculty Advisory Council to the Library, representing university faculty in all schools and in consultation with the Harvard Library leadership, reached this conclusion: major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable.”

The memo did not single out any publishers by name, but said that it was “untenable” for the library to renew its current agreements with “at least two major providers.” The faculty council advised researchers to raise the issue of exploitative journal pricing with their professional organizations and with each other and consider submitting to open-access journals instead of those “historically key providers.”

April 24, 2012

Quebecois students pepper-sprayed and 151 demonstrators arrested in Gatineau

GATINEAU—Police used pepper spray on student demonstrators at a college in old Hull on Thursday during a third day of confrontation in Quebec’s ongoing student protests over rising tuition fees.One hundred and forty-eight people were arrested for criminal mischief, after a demonstration that went from one Université du Québec en Outaouais campus to the other, and that for a while wound aimlessly through the side streets of old Hull before culminating in a confrontation.Three additional protestors were arrested earlier in the day.

In an unusual move, those arrested were to appear before a judge late Thursday, after the court’s normal hours of operation.UQO announced Thursday that classes would be cancelled on Friday.Three busloads of protesters from Montreal joined local students to form a crowd of about 500. They began the day marching to the main campus of the Université du Québec en Outaouais, on Alexandre-Taché Blvd.

That’s where a group of 50 to 75 protesters muscled a few Gatineau officers out of the way and bashed at a locked door until they broke the lock and some forced their way inside. Three of that group were the first arrests of the day; all three were also arrested Wednesday. But as police sealed off access to the UQO building, the students were on the move again. This time they moved north to the Collège Nouvelles Frontières, a junior college. They didn’t stay long, but two young men were pepper-sprayed in the face trying to enter the building.

On Wednesday, a total of 161 protesters were arrested for blocking the road near UQO. That protest, made up primarily of UQO students, teachers and other sympathizers, started on the campus and winded its way down Alexandre-Taché to La Promenade au Lac-des-Fées.

April 23, 2012

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Opens Education Annex on the Park

NEW YORK—The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is opening a new storefront classroom space in Harlem next month in a bid to continue—and expand—its educational programming. The museum’s building, the historical Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue, is undergoing a $54 million, two-year renovation and will reopen in 2014 with 60 percent more exhibition space.

Since closing last summer, the museum has transformed its program for visiting schoolchildren, taking the workshops to classrooms across the city. The new 1,500-square-foot space at 111 Central Park North will allow the museum’s educators to conduct other free workshops for children, teenagers and adults.

April 23, 2012

Servers of activist email service seized by federal authorities

U.S.A—On Wednesday, April 18, at approximately 16:00 Eastern Time, U.S. Federal authorities removed a server from a colocation facility shared by Riseup Networks and May First/People Link in New York City. The seized server was operated by the European Counter Network (“ECN”), the oldest independent internet service provider in Europe, who, among many other things, provided an anonymous remailer service, Mixmaster, that was the target of an FBI investigation into the bomb threats against the University of Pittsburgh.

Disrupted in this seizure were academics, artists, historians, feminist groups, gay rights groups, community centers, documentation and software archives and free speech groups. The server included the mailing list “cyber rights” (the oldest discussion list in Italy to discuss this topic), a Mexican migrant solidarity group, and other groups working to support indigenous groups and workers in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. In total, over 300 email accounts, between 50-80 email lists, and several other websites have been taken off the Internet by this action. None are alleged to be involved in the anonymous bomb threats. The seized machine did not contain any riseup email accounts, lists, or user data. Rather, the data belonged to ECN.

The FBI purportedly seized the server because it was hosting an anonymous remailer called Mixmaster. Anonymous remailers are used to send email anonymously, or pseudonymously. Like other anonymizing services such as the Tor network, these remailers are widely used to protect the identity of human rights activists who place themselves and their families in grave danger by reporting information about abuses. Remailers are also important for corporate whistle blowers, democracy activists working under repressive regimes, and others to communicate vital information that would otherwise go un-reported.

April 20, 2012

Frieze: ‘We Are Not in a Labor Dispute’

NEW YORK—A letter sent last Thursday by the New York City District Council of Carpenters to Deutsche Bank, the main sponsor of Frieze Art Fair, announced a labor dispute between the organization and the London fair that is preparing for its inaugural year in New York. It was sent to us as well. The letter claimed that Frieze is using contractors who “do not pay the area standard wages to all their employees including providing or fully paying for health benefits and pension.”

Frieze responded to Gallerist‘s request for comment on Friday morning with the following statement:

Frieze is aware of the letter sent by the New York City District Council of Carpenters and would like to reassure everyone that we are not in a labor dispute with them or any other collective bargaining organization. Frieze has a track record of producing high-quality art fairs and has contracted reputable local vendors with the appropriate skills and experience to prepare the Randall’s Island site for the upcoming art fair. In our inaugural edition of Frieze New York, we aim to make a positive cultural and economic contribution to the City by creating the best art fair experience for our participating galleries and the public.

Brian Brady, a representative for the District Council of Carpenters also returned Gallerist‘s call on Friday morning. He told us the Council has 23,000 members, a bulk of which are commercial carpenters in the city. None of them, he said, are working on the Frieze installation on Randall’s Island, which is happening now. He said the organization has tried to reach out to Frieze–both by phone and by visiting Randall’s Island in person–to no avail.

April 19, 2012

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis hires Melandri as director

ST. LOUIS—The board of directors of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis    said today that Lisa Melandri was appointed as the museum’s new director. The decision follows a five-month international search following the departure of former Director Paul Ha.
Melandri, currently the deputy director for exhibitions and programs at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, will assume her new position in August.
Melandri has served in a managerial and curatorial capacity at the Santa Monica Museum of Art since 2001, when she was named to her current post. During her tenure, that museum has grown in scope and size, nearly doubling its staff and operating budget to $2.2 million, and garnering national and international recognition.
Prior to working at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Melandri was acting artistic director at the Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Contemporary Art Museum board member Dwyer Brown has served as interim director since December, when Ha left to become director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s    List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Mass.

April 19, 2012

Swedish Culture Minister Refuses to Resign Over Offensive Photo-Op at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm

STOCKHOLM—Sweden’s culture minister clarified on Wednesday that she has no intention of resigning over photographs of her taking part in a performance art piece on female genital mutilation, which featured a cake shaped like a stereotypical African tribeswoman that screamed when it was cut into.

Images of the minister, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, smiling as she cut into the cake at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm on Sunday outraged the National Afro-Swedish Association, which described the performance as “a racist spectacle” anddemanded the minister step down.

Ms. Liljeroth defended her participation in the event in a statement on the ministry’s Web site headlined, “Art Must Be Allowed to Provoke,” but also apologized for any unintentional offense she had caused and agreed to meet with leaders of the Afro-Swedish group on Wednesday afternoon.

April 19, 2012

Montreal Students Occupy Banks in 12-Hour Protest Marathon

MONTREAL—Students across Quebec today continue their protest against tuition increases and austerity measures in education with a 12-hour ¨“marathon of intensive vindication,” according to organizers. Today rolling protests are scheduled mostly focused against banks. In Montreal, marches leave from Victoria Square every hour and will each take unique routes through downtown.

Just after 8am ET this morning, Montreal police dispersed a blockade ot the Banque Nationale tower using chemical weapons, preventing hundreds from getting to work inside. Meanwhile, in Quebec City, 60 protesters occupied a CIBC bank near the National Assembly. When police entered to remove them, the group merely crossed the street and occupied a Banque Nationale branch.

Student groups have held demonstrations nearly every day since they declared an indefinite strike on classes nearly two months ago. The strike is the longest in Quebec’s history and some marches have topped 200,000.

April 18, 2012

Italian Museum Director Begins Burning Art in Incendiary Anti-Austerity Protest

NAPLES—Last February, artist and curator Antonio Manfredi threatened to set fire to the permanent collection of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum outside Naples to protest under-funding of the arts in Italy. This afternoon, he put his art where his mouth is. Standing before cameras, he torched a painting by French artist Séverine Bourguignon, who watched the ceremony via Skype. Manfredi has said that he intends to burn three paintings a week from now on as part of an ongoing protest.

In following through with his earlier promise, the outspoken museum director hopes to inspire a reversal of the harsh austerity measures that have laid particularly high burdens on the shoulders of Italy’s cultural sector. Such problems are all the more difficult in the nation’s south, where employment and illiteracy are high, corruption is rampant, and general attitudes concerning art are characterized by cynicism and mistrust. In Manfredi’s view, only extreme measures can expect to win the attention of Lorenzo Ornaghi, director of Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage.

In February, when he first made his threat, Manfredi sent a dossier to Ornaghi containing photocopies of every one of the works of art in the Casoria collection, which number more than a thousand.

April 18, 2012

Helsinki Mayor Gives Guggenheim Go-Ahead

HELSINKI— Plans for the Guggenheim Foundation’s fourth European museum, to be located in the center of the Finnish capital, have received the approval of the city’s mayor, Jussi Pajunen. (It now must be green-lit by the city council.) The €140 million ($183 million) museum is expected to attract an annual attendance of 500,000.

The Bilbao museum will have right of approval of the Helsinki museum. The foundation also operates museums in New York, Berlin, Venice and Abu Dhabi. Helsinki’s City Council is scheduled to decide on the construction of the museum in the autumn of 2013, the mayor’s proposal showed.

April 17, 2012

Philippine student activists pretending to be joggers deface US embassy in protest seal

MANILA—Student activists defaced the seal of the United States embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Manila to protest the Philippines-US Balikatan military exercises that started yesterday.

At least 100 members of the leftist League of Filipino Students (LFS) surprised Manila policemen and US embassy security guards. The students slipped through security to stage a lightning rally near the main gate of the embassy at around 6 a.m., then sprayed red and blue paint on the embassy seal.

Another student used an improvised club to smash the metal letters of the seal while security guards watched helplessly from the embassy compound. The students brought placards that read, “Defend national sovereignty!” “Junk VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement)!” and “US troops out now!” The VFA was signed in 1999 to authorize the Phl-US joint military exercises.

Witnesses said militants pretended to be joggers and then staged the lightning rally at the embassy gate. The protesters dispersed after 30 minutes when three policemen arrived. The police failed to arrest any activist.

April 17, 2012

‘Marathon’ student protest continue

QUEBEC—A day of rolling student protests in downtown Montreal started off with police declaring a blockade at the Banque Nationale illegal. The demonstrations Wednesday took place over 12 hours in what organizers are calling a “marathon of intensive vindication.” A new group of protesters set off every hour from Victoria Square, following different routes through the city’s core.
Protesters started the morning at the square and moved to the Banque Nationale tower, where other demonstrators were already gathering and blocking entrances. Hundreds of workers were stuck outside as police assessed the situation.

They declared the demonstration illegal just before 8:30 a.m. ET and moved workers away from the protesters. Police told those blocking the entrances to leave or they could face arrest.Fifteen minutes later, tactical officers moved in and dispersed the group with an irritant spray.In Quebec City, a group of about 60 protesters occupied a CIBC bank branch near the national assembly. Police moved in to escort them out of the building about 20 minutes later, only to see the group cross the street and do the same thing at a Banque Nationale branch.

Student groups have organized near-daily demonstrations since they declared a unlimited boycott on classes nearly two months ago. The government has refused to back down on the increases despite the student unrest. The province’s universities and CÉGEPs are now warning students they’ve reached the tipping point and risk losing their school year if they continue to boycott classes. Education Minister Line Beauchamp has said colleges and universities should continue to offer courses, regardless of whether students attend or not.

University of Montreal student Alex Callisto said he joined the protest Wednesday to show his solidarity with students across the province.Classes resumed Tuesday at the Cégep de Matane and Alma College, where students voted last week to end their boycott. Thousands of third and fourth year students at Laval University in Quebec did the same and returned to class Tuesday morning.

In all, 4,800 students are still on strike at Laval University.

April 16, 2012

Massachusetts Institute of Technology establishes a Center for Art, Science & Technology

CAMBRIDGE— Massachusetts Institute of Technology has received $1.5 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a new Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST). The Center will advance MIT’s leadership in integrating the arts into the curriculum and research of institutions of higher learning. A joint initiative of the office of the Provost and the schools of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), the proposal was co-sponsored by Philip S. Khoury, Associate Provost and Ford International Professor of History, Adèle Naudé Santos, Dean of Architecture and Planning, and Deborah K. Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Evan Ziporyn, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music, will serve as CAST’s inaugural director.

Professor Ziporyn has developed and spearheaded residencies by numerous artists during his 22 years at MIT, including an ongoing three-year residency by the innovative music ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars, which began in the 2010-11 academic year and will continue through the spring of 2013. The residencies of the past several years — Gustavo Dudamel, Bang on a Can, Robert Wilson, to name just a few —have had an enormous impact on campus life; they are good examples of what we hope to accomplish with CAST.”

Four years of support from the Mellon Foundation will allow the Center to become established as a catalyst for multidisciplinary creative experimentation on campus. CAST will be housed in the office of the Provost. Provost L. Rafael Reif welcomed the Center, saying, “The arts today are embedded in new media and innovative technologies. Many of our students have an exceptional blend of creativity and technical proficiencies and are poised to lead the creative industries of the future, or will lead other fields with the flexible and innovative thinking learned from deep engagement with the arts. As one of the world’s leading research universities focused on science and technology, MIT should also be at the forefront of developing ambitious, technically advanced and socially significant art, design and performance.”

April 16, 2012

NEA to Cut Substantial Funds to PBS Arts Programming

WASHINGTON—The National Endowment for the Arts, one of the nation’s largest source of monetary assistance to the arts, announced on Monday plans to slash substantial funding for PBS programs, including Independent Lens and POV. These cuts, which take effect April 25, would take away over $1 million in production assistance from not just the aforementioned shows, but also to American MastersArt21, and Great Performances.

April 13, 2012

NYU protests against JPMorgan Chase on campus

NEW YORK—NYU Students for Occupy Wall Street held a demonstration in front of Bobst Library yesterday, urging the university to sever all ties with JPMorgan Chase bank for its leading role in New York home foreclosures. The protest drew in a crowd of about 30 organizers, participants and bystanders chanting familiar Occupy Wall Street rhymes, and calling for President John Sexton to evict the bank from campus.  ”The message is to stop foreclosures in the community,” said Caitlin MacLaren, one of the organizers of the event. “NYU claims it’s a private university at the public’s service. We’re asking it to live up to this promise.”

Students participated in a theatrical demonstration where members took turns trying to convince a protester dressed as Sexton to sign a large eviction notice. After several refusals, the fake Sexton acquiesced amidst resounding cheers. The protest ended with organizers asking the crowd to sign petitions and pass out flyers in a final attempt to capture the real Sexton’s attention.

The demonstration follows a larger movement that launched two weeks ago when organizers sent an open letter to Sexton outlining the ties between Chase and NYU, demanding fiscal transparency and severing ties with Chase.”Yesterday was the deadline for Sexton to respond to our concerns,” organizer Rebecca Nathanson said. “Today’s rally is our response to his lack of response.”

NYU4OWS has partnered with New York Communities for Change, an organization that tackles affordable housing, among other things, for this campaign.  A study conducted by NYCC found that only 6 percent of New York homeowners asking for modifications had their wishes granted. About 80 percent of homeowners working with various agencies have not received modifications.Various homeowners who have been evicted from their homes or had their credits ruined have joined the larger movement against Chase by targeting towns and universities in New York. So far, several towns including Ithaca and Hampstead have boycotted the bank.

Find video coverage here:

April 13, 2012

Police disperse student protesters after clash outside Concordia’s downtown campus

MONTREAL –Thursday morning after Montreal police broke up a brief student blockade downtown of the main Concordia University campus building.

About two dozen Montreal police officers equipped with helmets and shields had pushed a crowd of protesting students away from the front of the Henry F. Hall Building westward along de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. on Thursday at 8:55 a.m., after which the crowd dissolved.

The manoeuvre was carried out with some jostling by both sides, amid omnipresent digital cameras focused on the battle line by a significant number of bystanders. The police action, conducted at a slow but steady pace, very quickly reopened access to Concordia’s Hall Building. Normal operations at the building’s entrance were restored by 9 a.m.

This latest skirmish follows 12 hours of protests held Wednesday around the downtown core by students denouncing the Quebec government’s plan to raise university tuition by $325 a year in each of the next five years.

April 12, 2012

Veterans’ Student Debt Collectors

WASHINGTON —The Veterans Affairs Department is planning to resume a policy of cutting into the tuition payments from the Post-9/11 GI Bill for veterans with outstanding debts, drawing protests from higher education associations who say that the policy will force colleges to become debt collectors themselves.

Veterans who owe debt to the department — including advance payments under the Post-9/11 GI Bill that require repayment, as well as debt incurred from other Veterans Affairs benefit programs for housing and medical expenses — can have future aid withheld to repay the money they owe.

But tuition benefits have been exempt from such withholding since shortly after distribution of educational benefits began under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In December, the department quietly indicated its intention to resume withholding unpaid debts from veterans’ tuition and fee payments.

On Monday, in a strongly worded letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, higher education associations warned that the new policy could have “unintended consequences” and “violates the faith and intent of the enrollment certification process,” in which a veteran enrolls in college under the assumption that the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover the costs.

April 12, 2012

UC Davis chancellor blamed over use of pepper-spray on Occupy protesters

CALIFORNIA—A University of California task force said Wednesday that UC Davis police should not have used pepper-spray on student demonstrators in an incident that prompted national outrage and calls for the chancellor’s resignation after online videos of the confrontation went viral. The officers’ decision to douse pepper-spray on a seated line of Occupy protesters was “objectively unreasonable” and not authorized by campus policy, according to the report by a UC Davis task force created to investigate the incident.

Officers involved in the incident said they felt they needed to use pepper spray because they believed they were surrounded by a hostile crowd, but the investigation suggested that was not the case, according to the report. The task force also attributed the response to breakdowns in the campus chain of command, from chancellor Linda Katehi to police chief Annette Spicuzza to lieutenant John Pike, the main officer shown in the widely viewed online videos.

In February, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against school administrators on behalf of a group of pepper-sprayed students seeking unspecified damages and campus policies to prevent similar responses to nonviolent protests.

The task force blamed the chancellor for not clearly communicating to her subordinates that police should avoid physical force on the protesters. It also said she was responsible for the decision to deploy police on a Friday afternoon, rather than wait until early morning as the police chief wanted. UC Davis published the task force’s findings and recommendations online a day after a judge approved its release without the names of most officers involved in the clash.

April 11, 2012

Missouri governor releases education funding

JEFFERSON CITY—Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon moved Tuesday to restore about $6.8 million previously cut from public education programs thanks to a boost in lottery sales from the recent record-high Mega Millions jackpot.  Nixon’s administration said it’s providing $5 million for K-12 transportation assistance. The governor already had released $3 million cut from school busing aid in February, and Tuesday’s move reversed the entire $8 million that was trimmed.

Other restored funding included $200,000 for fine arts and scholars academies. Both are three-week residential programs designed to help gifted students. Nixon also released $357,500 for the Access Missouri scholarship, $659,783 for the A+ Schools program, $300,000 for math and science tutoring and $100,000 for an early literacy program.

The governor made the education cuts because of budget concerns when signing the current year’s spending plan into law this past summer. His administration said Tuesday the cuts could be restored because of additional revenue collected during the recent uptick in lottery sales.

So far, senators have developed plans to keep funding steady for higher education while offering a small boost to public school districts. The Appropriations Committee also has proposed limiting raises for state workers who earn less than $45,000 a year, and tapping a state labor department fund to help pay Missouri’s debt to the federal government for jobless benefits.

April 11, 2012

On eve of Wednesday’s wave of Montreal protests, plans for tighter controls hit snag

MONTREAL—As Montreal braces for another wave of downtown demonstrations that will see 12 marches launched over the course of 12 hours on Wednesday, city officials are scrambling this week to find ways to tighten the ground rules for any further protests.  But as this city becomes the venue of choice for demonstrators protesting everything from tuition fee hikes to funding cuts at the National Film Board, Montreal city hall will have to wait a while longer before it finds out if the provincial government will help out with police costs.

A meeting between Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay and Quebec public security minister Robert Dutil scheduled for this week to discuss an additional $35 million a year in funding for police operations has been postponed “because of a conflict in scheduling,” an aide to Tremblay said on Tuesday. Painchaud said no alternate date for the meeting had been established, but it’s unlikely that one of the events that triggered it, a nine-week strike by Quebec university and college students, will be settled by the time Tremblay and Dutil finally sit down together. The protest marches organized by the student federations leading the strike have occurred in Montreal on almost a daily basis, the latest instalment scheduled to begin Wednesday at 7 a.m., as the first of a dozen demonstrations is set to leave Victoria Square, followed hourly by 11 more.

The disruptions to traffic, business and wear and tear on police who in many cases must keep surveillance on a march with no clear route led Tremblay last month to assign the city’s public security committee to come up with a set of rules to better control how demonstrations are carried out and to limit the disruption they cause downtown.

One of those disruptions has come in the form of cortèges of police vehicles speeding through city streets as they try to keep up with changes to the route of a protest march. The occurrence has become so common that on Tuesday the Montreal police department reminded media outlets that vehicles belonging to news gathering organizations were breaking the law when they tried to tag along with police and other emergency vehicles. The city had examined the possibility of banning masks during demonstrations in 2009 and been told such a bylaw would infringe on personal freedoms. Tremblay told reporters March that the city was also looking into adopting bylaws that would require city-issued permits and the sharing of the march route with police for any planned street protest.

The committee has until the end of the month to submit its recommendations.

April 11, 2012

‘Dream Defenders’ March To Sanford Police Dept.

SANFORD—Students stepped up their protests in Sanford on Monday, after promising their plans for “civil disobedience.” Another rally began Monday morning in Sanford, just hours after a 3-day march for Trayvon Martin ended Sunday. The office of the Sanford Police Department is temporarily close to the publice on Monday because of the Dream Defenders protest.

The students are occupying the area in front of the police department entrance.
Officials said that the police department being close will have minimum effect on police and fire response to emergency calls. “The city of Sanford hopes the actions of the students will be as peaceful and orderly as the previous rallies and marches have been,” said city manager Norton Bonaparte. “We want to be accommodating to all our visitors proving they act in a manner that is respectful to the people of the city.”

After the Easter weekend march dozens of college students said it’s time to ramp up their efforts to get justice for Martin—even if it involved breaking the law—at a rousing service Sunday night. The Dream Defenders, made up of college students, walked from Daytona Beach to Sanford this weekend, and then they attended services at Allen Chapel AME Church, where they announced plans for an act of civil disobedience Monday.

The students said the 40-mile walk from Daytona to Sanford symbolized the 40 days that George Zimmerman has not been arrested for shooting an unarmed teen in a claim of self-defense. he locations of the civil disobedience demonstrations were not disclosed, and city officials said they have requested that any demonstration that will take place remain peaceful and orderly.

April 10, 2012

Quebec students’ tuition fight reaches crucial point as semester runs out of time

MONTREAL—It’s a crucial week in what is now historically the longest student strike in Quebec’s history, but there is no resolution in sight to the dispute over tuition fees or to the social unrest it has sparked.  Exams and final papers are just around the corner for Quebec’s university and CÉGEP students, but students and government officials are still at an impasse – and despite student leaders saying it was important the two sides meet this week, a government spokesperson said on Monday there were no talks planned. There are about 185,000 students on strike now – almost half the university and college population of 400,000. About 90,000 of them have agreed to an unlimited strike that won’t end until the government rescinds its plan for a $1,625 tuition increase over five years.

The government has repeatedly said it would not enter into negotiations with students until they accept a tuition increase. But students insist one place they could start is by discussing the financing of universities and, in particular, the lack of accountability that has led to some financial disasters such as the Université du Québec à Montréal’s $510-million Îlot Voyageur campus. With no talks planned, Tuesday may mark a critical point in the nine-week-long strike that has polarized many campuses. The Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec says that day is a kind of point of no return when CEGEPs will have to figure out how to make up lost time before June 15, which is as long as most college teachers have to work, contractually. In fact, a few CEGEPs – such as Collège Montmorency in Laval – have already had to cancel their summer sessions to accommodate the extended semester.

And this week is when many university and CÉGEP associations will have to renew their strike mandates – just as upheaval and uncertainty in the education system is swelling and the stakes are getting higher as final exams approach. Wednesday will be another big day for protesting students as they launch a 12-hour-long demonstration that will begin at 7 a.m. at Victoria Square. The “unlimited protest” is supposed to show the students’ unlimited resolve in the face of tuition increases and the Quebec government’s unwavering stance on the issue. A continual loop of students will take turns marching for an hour at a time throughout the day.

April 10, 2012

LACMA’s vision is realized in Qatar; Russia bans loans of art to U.S.

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County Museum of Art finally has fulfilled the vision it had for its biggest foray into Islamic art – a goal thwarted until now by the government of the Russian Federation. The only problem is that Angelenos would have to travel more than 8,000 miles to see it.

In “Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts,” now on view in Doha, the capital of Qatar, art that Islamic rulers had sent long ago to the czarist courts is finally on display – courtesy of the State Hermitage Museum and National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg, and the Kremlin Museum in Moscow.

Russia’s ban on art and artifacts loans to American museums forced LACMA to exhibit a somewhat diminished version of the show. Both in L.A. and at its next stop, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, about 30 works that Russian museums had agreed to lend to the exhibition before the ban never went on display.

Initiated in the fall of 2010, the embargo imposed by Russia’s Ministry of Culture remains in effect, despite the State Department’s ongoing efforts to work out a resolution.The ban stems from Russia’s ire over an American federal court ruling in mid-2010, ordering it to return a trove of sacred books and rabbinical writings known as the Schneerson Library to Chabad, a Jewish religious movement that began in 18th century Russia. The texts had been seized during the Russian Revolution, before Chabad was transplanted to its current home in the United States.

With loans from many other sources and pieces from LACMA’s own collection, the L.A. and Houston iterations of “Gifts of the Sultan” still had more than 200 works. Gregory Guroff, president of the Foundation for International Arts and Education, a Maryland-based nonprofit that presents exhibitions of art from Russia and other former Soviet republics, said Russian officials have decided to withhold artworks that are government property while allowing visits by performers who are private individuals. He said they view the instruments, sets and costumes the performers bring as private property that’s not subject to a government-imposed travel ban

April 10, 2012

Mauricio Lasansky, Master Printmaker, Dies at 97

IOWA—Mauricio Lasansky, an Argentine-born master printmaker who was equally well known for a series of drawings depicting the horrors of Nazism, died on Monday at his home in Iowa City. He was 97.

The death was confirmed by his son Phillip. At his death, Mr. Lasansky was emeritus professor of art and art history at the University of Iowa, where he established its program in printmaking, long regarded as one of the country’s finest, after joining the faculty in 1945.

His largest prints comprised as many as 60 discrete plates, each contributing a section of the image, and required many trips through the press. He used specially milled paper, made in France from a recipe he devised, that could withstand the repeated stress his methods entailed.

His prints are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum and elsewhere.

Mauricio Leib Lasansky was born in Buenos Aires on Oct. 12, 1914. His parents were Eastern European Jews; his father, who had made his way to Argentina via North America, had worked as a printer and engraver at the United States Mint in Philadelphia. He later gave young Mauricio his first instruction in those arts.

In 1943, Mr. Lasansky traveled to the United States on a Guggenheim fellowship. Settling in New York, he made a deep study of the prints — more than 100,000 — in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mr. Lasansky’s wife, the former Emilia Barragan, whom he married in 1937, died in 2009. He is survived by four sons, William, Leonardo, Phillip and Tomás; two daughters, Rocio Weinstein, known as Nina, and Jimena Lasansky; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

April 9, 2012

Montreal student radicals blamed for locust infestation

MONTREAL —Student radicals are suspected in an act of vandalism with Biblical overtones after swarms of locusts overran the city’s main business school on Thursday. Officials at the HEC school called in exterminators to fight the plague that came hours before Quebec offered its first olive branch in a 52-day student strike over tuition hikes.Hundreds of locusts infested a classroom and two bathrooms at HEC around 8:30 a.m. A letter left at the scene made a direct reference to the book of Exodus that recounts plagues that hit Egypt in biblical times. “Pharaoh hardens his heart but justice is served,” read the note. “May it stain your walls and your air ducts.”

The insect infestation was one of two incidents at Quebec schools Thursday as thousands of students continue their protests against tuition hikes In Saguenay, 200 km north of Quebec City, a security guard suffered a dislocated shoulder in a scuffle with students who tried to occupy a campus building. A second guard suffered a knee injury.

April 9, 2012

Performance Pay for Chicago College Faculty

CHICAGO—A group of part-time instructors at City Colleges of Chicago will join senior administrators in having their job performance – and pay raises – tied to student outcomes, thanks to a new union contract with a structure that is unusual, if not unprecedented in higher education.

The union representing 459 adult education instructors, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, last month ratified the contract, which was approved Wednesday by the City Colleges’ governing board. (The majority of faculty are affiliated with other unions.)

“Today’s agreement is a major milestone in our efforts to instill a student-centered mindset of accountability and performance across our institution,” said Paula Wolff, the board’s chair, in a written statement. “We commend AFSCME and its members for their leadership and commitment to putting students and taxpayers first.”

Union leaders, however, were not as positive. And a national faculty advocate called the new contract a bad precedent.

April 6, 2012

Free Speech Battle Over Protests Looming at Seattle Colleges

SEATTLE—A major battle over free speech is being waged on local college campuses in Seattle. The Seattle Community College District Board of Trustees wants to revise the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) for Seattle colleges. The district is proposing new rules that would regulate protests on all three of the city’s state funded community college campuses.

Organizations opposed to the board’s proposals include the ACLU, the Seattle chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, student councils at all three of the district’s colleges, and Occupy Seattle.

About a hundred Occupy Seattle participants set up camp at Seattle Central Community College last fall after being pushed out of Westlake Park by police. SCCC president Paul Kilpatrick and the school administration went to court to evict the demonstrators from the campus, and on December 10, 2011, the occupiers were forced to leave. A Thurston County Superior Court judge has allowed the college to impose new rules which prohibit camping on the campus, on an “emergency” basis.

Prior to this ruling, there had been no rules regulating encampments on state college campuses in the state of Washington.

Among other proposals, the new set of rules would:
-restrict the size of protest signs to a maximum of 3 feet by 5 feet
-impose a limit of one sign per person.
-place restrictions on where protests can take place and how long they can last. Student groups would be forced to end their demonstrations after eight hours, whereas off-campus organizations like Occupy Seattle would only be allowed to rally for five hours at a time.
-prohibit protests outside of designated “free speech zones” on campus
-require non-student groups to notify the college 24 hours in advance of demonstrations.

Protesters who violate the rules could be arrested by Seattle police and charged with trespassing.

April 6, 2012

Federal Funding for Harvard Declines

BOSTON—Following a nearly 50 percent reduction in federal funding, several of Harvard’s regional centers have been forced to rely on alternative sources of funding—including individual endowments and support from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—to maintain the quality of the academic and extracurricular opportunities offered to students. Four of Harvard’s centers for regional studies—the Committee on African Studies, the Asia Center, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies—are recipients of Title VI grants from the Department of Education.

But Title VI grants were cut by 46% for the current academic year after Congressional debates last year. They will remain at that level for the upcoming fiscal year as well, according to Alexandra M. Vacroux, executive director of the Davis Center. Vacroux said the Title VI grant represented approximately 17 to 18 percent of the Davis Center’s budget—an amount that has since decreased to less than ten percent.

Similarly, the Reischauer Institute, which was receiving about $500,000 dollars of federal grant money a year in the form of Fulbright-Hayes grants and Foreign Language and Areas Studies fellowship programs, saw that funding slashed in half, according to institute director Andrew Gordon. The cuts in funding have affected language training programs, course offerings, and scholarships, said Professor Ali Asani, member of the Standing Committee on Middle Eastern Studies. Meanwhile, some institutes like the Reischauer Institute have also reduced the number of postdoctoral fellowships and invited fewer guest speakers in order to cope with lower budgets, added Gordon.

April 6, 2012

North Carolina Students organize alternative grad ceremony in opposition to Bloomberg

NORTH CAROLINA—Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are organizing an Alternative Commencement Ceremony for students, parents and the larger community to celebrate the achievements of the class of 2012 without symbolically honoring New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will speak at the official University commencement on May 13.

Last December, a group of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill created a petition to prevent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg from delivering the May commencement address. The students were outraged by the brutality he visited upon Occupy Wall Street, including the arrest of credentialed journalists. Though many students signed, neither Chancellor Holden Thorp nor the commencement committee moved to revoke his invitation. So an Alternative Commencement was organized instead. Students’ declaration to hold an independent graduation ceremony can be found by clicking   HERE

April 5, 2012

NY Museums Participate in Google Art Project

NYC—As part of the Google Art Project website, NY museums The Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Collection, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art will feature some of the 32,000 works of art included in the project from 151 institutions around the world. The works consist of anything from aboriginal rock art to textiles, glass and ceramics.

The project aims to make art more accessible, and allows commenting by viewers, personalized galleries, and additional educational options. The DIY feature links users to 10 different art education sites, including the Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.

April 5, 2012

Elizabeth Catlett, African-American Printmaker and Sculptor, Dead at 96

MEXICO—The pioneering sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett died yesterday just two weeks shy of her 97th birthday, the Web site Black Art in America reported. She died at her home in Cuernavaca, 40 miles south of Mexico City, where she had lived since using a Rosenwald Fund Fellowship to travel to Mexico in 1946.

Catlett was born in Washington, D.C., in 1915 to parents who were both teachers — though her father died before she was born. She earned her Bachelor of Science in art at Howard University — she was originally offered a full scholarship to Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Carnegie Mellon University, though she was denied enrollment when the institution discovered she was black — and later received an MFA from the University of Iowa, where “American Gothic” painter Grant Wood was her mentor. Two years ago Catlett told The Root that Grant managed to convince the university to give her and a male student its first ever masters’ in sculpture. After graduating she followed in her parents’ footsteps and became a teacher, first at Dillard University in New Orleans, and then, during the second World War, at the George Washington Carver School on 125th Street in Harlem.

She and her first husband, the artist Charles White, traveled to Mexico City on the Rosenwald Fellowship in 1946, where she joined the highly political Taller de Gráfica Popular (The People’s Graphic Arts Workshop), an institution which was frequented by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and other members of the Mexican avant-garde. There she studiet with the sculptors Jose L. Ruiz and Francisco Zúñiga and met her second husband, the Mexican painter Francisco Mora (who died in 1973). Catlett became a Mexican citizen soon after the U.S. Embassy asked her to provide the names of Communists she knew in 1955. In 1958 she joined the faculty of the School of Fine Arts of Mexico’s National Autonomous University, becoming its first woman professor. She continued to teach there until she retired in 1975. She is included in the National Museum of Art in Mexico City.

She continued to make art, however, and enjoyed major solo shows at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia in 2010, and at Florida’s Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in February of 2011. In the spring of 2010, her 10-foot-tall sculpture of singer Mahalia Jackson was installed near a 1975 sculpture she created of jazz great Louis Armstrong in New Orleans’s Treme neighborhood. She is survived by her three children, including her son David Mora, who was her assistant for nearly a half-century.  Catlett received a lifetime achievement award from Trenton’s National Sculpture Center in 2003.

April 5, 2012

The head of Sciences Po found dead in NYC hotel

NYC—A prominent French scholar was found dead in a midtown hotel room Tuesday, lying nude on the bed, cops said. Detectives were treating Richard Descoings’ death in as suspicious after finding his cell phone on a third-floor landing as if “it had been tossed out the window” of his seventh-floor room, a police source said.

Descoings, director of the prestigious Institute of Political Studies in Paris (Sciences Po), was found dead about 1 p.m. in his room at the Michelangelo Hotel. A staffer at the W. 51st St. hotel discovered Descoings naked on his bed after his worried colleagues asked to have the room checked when he failed to show up at a morning conference at Columbia University.

“We haven’t ruled out foul play,” said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. “We’re investigating the possibility if there was somebody else in the room.” But two police sources said it did not appear that Descoings was murdered.

Browne said there was no obvious trauma on the 52-year-old political scientist’s body and no sign of forced entry into his room. Hotel staffers told cops he checked in alone, Browne said.  Police believe Descoings may have been alive as late as 9 a.m. Tuesday, when hotel staff heard what sounded like snoring through his door.

April 4, 2012

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sets up live webcams at home

BEIJING—Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has set up four live webcams at his home, in a nod to the 24-hour police surveillance he has lived under for the last year. Mr Ai was detained in April 2011 during a crackdown on political activists and is now banned from leaving Beijing. The artist told the AFP news agency that by installing the cameras – including above his bed – he hoped to encourage transparency from all sides. He is currently fighting tax evasion charges related to his company.

The charges were brought against his company, Fake Cultural Development Ltd, when he was released from detention last June. Mr Ai said he had had “no clear answers” about why he was been charged and placed under surveillance. ”In my life, there is so much surveillance and monitoring… our office has been searched, I have been searched, every day I am being followed, there are surveillance cameras in front of my house,” he told the AFP news agency.

“So I was wondering, why don’t I put some [cameras] in there so people can see all my activities. I can do that and I hope the other party can also show some transparency.” Last week, Chinese authorities upheld an earlier decision to force Mr Ai’s design company to pay a $2.4m (£1.55m) fine imposed by the tax bureau for ”back taxes”.

Activists have argued that the charges are politically motivated, as the internationally-renowned artist has at times been an outspoken critic of the government.

April 3, 2012

Alberta Liberals to eliminate tuition by 2025

CANADA—The Alberta Liberals say they would begin reducing college and university tuition fees upon winning the election and eliminate post-secondary tuition entirely by 2025. “Countries which out-educate and out-train us today will out-compete us tomorrow,” says Liberal Leader Raj Sherman.

One of the major reasons Alberta has the lowest post-secondary participation rate in Canada is the high cost of tuition and the crushing student debt that results from it, he said. The Liberals plan to invest part of the province’s resource revenues into a trust fund. Tuition will be reduced as interest from this fund grows.

The Liberals also propose to introduce a “Fair Tax” which means large corporations and Albertans who make more than $100,000 a year will pay more each year. These increased tax revenues will make it possible to offset the resource revenue diverted into the education trust fund, the party suggests. Tuition fees will be cut immediately by $250 after the election, said Sherman. As more tax money is collected and invested, tuition costs will dwindle to zero in 2025.

April 3, 2012

US Republican canditate Santorum falsely claims that California Universities don’t teach American History

WISCONSIN—Rick Santorum has returned to the issue of higher education. Appearing in Wisconsin Monday, he charged that “seven or eight of the California system of universities don’t even teach an American history course. It’s not even available to be taught.” (Think Progress, a liberal organization, noted the statement, and also posted video of it.) One problem with Santorum’s claim is that it’s not true. The only University of California campus without American history is the system’s medical and health professions campus. In fact, the University of California requires undergraduates to study American history. There is also no shortage of history courses (although some sections appear to be at capacity) at California State University campuses. At California State University at Chico, for example, this semester alone one can find courses being taught in United States history (several sections plus honors sections), America in the 1960s, post-1877 American history, the American Indian, Mexican heritage in the United States, the history of California, America’s Vietnam experience, and the history of U.S. foreign policy. Other Cal State campuses appear to have similar offerings.

April 3, 2012

New research from the U.S. Federal reserve show senior citizens suffer from student loans

WASHINGTON—The burden of paying for college is wreaking havoc on the finances of an unexpected demographic: senior citizens. New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.

That even seniors remain saddled with student loans highlights what a growing chorus of lawmakers, economists and financial experts say has become a central conflict in the nation’s higher education system: The long-touted benefits of a college degree are being diluted by rising tuition rates and the longevity of debt.  Some of these older Americans are still grappling with their first wave of student loans, while others took on new debt when they returned to school later in life in hopes of becoming more competitive in the labor force. Many have co-signed for loans with their children or grandchildren to help them afford ballooning tuition.

The recent recession exacerbated this problem, making it harder for older Americans — or the youths they are supporting in school — to get good-paying jobs. And unlike other debts, student loans cannot be shed in bankruptcy. As a result, some older Americans have found that a college degree led not to a prosperous career but instead to a lifetime under the shadow of debt. “A student loan can be a debt that’s kind of like a ball and chain that you can drag to the grave,” said William E. Brewer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. “You can unhook it when they lay you in the coffin.”

April 2, 2012

The Shipping Container Architects Behind the Whitney’s Pop-Up Classroom

NEW YORK—The Whitney’s forthcoming pop-up studio, designed to host the museum’s supplementary educational programming, will have a bold presence in its Madison Avenue courtyard. The dramatic black cube features a diagonal swath of neon yellow glass that cuts into it on one side and runs over the roof to the other, providing at once two windows and a skylight, brightening the interior, and allowing passersby a glimpse of what’s going on inside. It abounds in angular geometries, sharply cut diagonals, and plays on the most basic of shapes. While the construction is relatively straight forward, it stands out radically, marking a sharp contrast to the museum’s concrete exterior.

It’s also made entirely of shipping containers, the material of choice for LOT-EK (a play on “low technology”), the New York-based architectural firm commissioned for the project. To construct the pop-up studio, they stacked two layers of containers and partially cut the interior to create a mezzanine, resulting in a succinct, 472-square-foot minimalist cube. While shipping containers come in one shape, the rigid rectangular prism, the firm doesn’t find them limiting, according to principal Giuseppe Lignano.

At the Whitney in 2004, LOT-EK presented their Mobile Dwelling Unit, a complete shipping container housing structure with functioning bathing, cooking, and sleeping amenities. The firm is also playing a hand in Manhattan’s Pier 57 redevelopment program, which will include a shipping container market with a rooftop mezzanine. Their next shipment lands at the Whitney in April.

April 2, 2012

Debts of Arts Academy and Arts Academy West become part of court case

CLEVELAND— The names of Carl Shye Jr. and Edward Dudley have popped up in scathing audits of Ohio charter schools where the two men have been in charge of state funds. Their names also are sprinkled throughout court filings in the messy case of the Arts Academy in Lorain and Arts Academy West in Cleveland, sister charter schools that crashed and burned last year after having received about $14 million from the state over the half-dozen years they were open.

The schools officially closed June 30, leaving thousands of dollars of debt in their wake, according to the Ohio attorney general’s office.
But long before that, they were caught in a tug-of-war over who should control their boards, their treasurers and their money — money provided by Ohio taxpayers. On one side was Alexis Rainbow, who founded and ran the schools through her company, Rainbow Arts Immersion. On the other was Jorethia Chuck, who headed the schools’ sponsor, Ashe Culture Center.Both had been involved in possible ethics violations regarding the spending of school money, according to various state audits, though both have denied wrongdoing.

When Ashe had the upper hand at the Arts Academies, it hired Dudley to handle the finances. During the 2009-10 school year, his company, LED Consulting, got nearly $14,000 from the schools with no documentation to prove it was entitled to the money, a January state audit revealed. (See the full text of the audit in the DocumentCloud viewer below) When Rainbow wrested back control, she hired Shye to handle finances for the 2010-11 school year. He is responsible for more than $600,000 in misspending at other Ohio charter schools, according to state audits.
The meltdown of the Arts Academies accelerated in the spring when the Ohio Department of Education held up funding for a month because the schools’ financial records were in such bad shape they couldn’t be audited.

April 2, 2012

The Hong Kong Institute of Education
Gerrit Rietveld Academie
Emily Carr
St. John\'s University
Malmö Art Academy