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CalArts Students Protest Planned Tuition Increase

Above: CalArts students protest at Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles. Photo by Marco Yizhou Zhang, via Hyperallergic.
Above: CalArts students protest at Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles. Photo by Marco Yizhou Zhang, via Hyperallergic.

VALENCIA, CALIFORNIA—Students at the California Institute of the Arts have launched a petition protesting the school’s planned tuition increase from $48,660 to $50,850 per year. The students argue that the tuition hike, which was approved by the school’s board in December 2018 without student participation, places the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the CalArts student population at risk. On its website, the institute forecasts that tuition is likely to rise 2–4% annually after the 2019-20 academic year.

Among the petition’s requirements, the students are seeking a tuition freeze for currently enrolled students and majority student representation on the school’s budget committee. The petition also asks for more transparent communication between the board of trustees and students, faculty, and staff, and the creation of an oversight committee with student participation to review how funds are allocated across the institute. It also notes that seventy-five percent of the institute’s budget is derived from tuition revenue.

“We understand there are outside factors that affect these decisions at a national and systemic level, but the current model of this institution is not sustainable and remains a problem that directly affects us and our future. We can no longer generalize. We are the institute’s largest funders and it is imperative that we have a seat the table,” the petition states. “For many of us, this tuition increase is the difference between continuing our studies and having to leave CalArts.”

Following a student protest on Tuesday, March 12, of a board meeting at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Los Angeles mobilized by the Instagram account @calartswithout, Tim Disney, chairman of the board of trustees, issued a five-point resolution addressing the students’ concerns, including a reevaluation of the school’s financial aid policies. The tuition increase will, however, remain in effect. Speaking with Hyperallergic after the protest, CalArts president Ravi S. Rajan noted the unsustainable nature of the school’s tuition policies and said, “Higher education has followed a system for many years and we’re at a breaking point. This is the higher education crisis we’re hearing about.”

March 15, 2019