Over 300 students occupied two rooms at the National College of Art and Design today after the director of the college refused to meet them to discuss their concerns over cuts, overcrowding and funding.
Students and graduates occupied the college’s board room and staff room after the director of NCAD pulled out of a scheduled meeting.
Director Declan McGonagle was due to meet with the students at 1pm today following a protest last Friday in which over 400 students hand-delivered letters of demands to him.
He circulated an email to all members of the student body around 12 noon today, in which he said that he was no longer willing to meet with them.
McGonagle said that he would not meet with members of the student body if the occupation was set to go ahead regardless of the outcome of the meeting.
NCAD graduate Kerry Guinan said, “He’s not comfortable meeting us on our terms. He is not comfortable meeting the student body enmasse because he does not know the student body.
“He has no idea what’s going on with us. He doesn’t recognise our faces and he doesn’t know practically what it’s like to live as a student in NCAD. He’s operating on a completely different level to us. He is not willing to come face-to-face with the people that his policy is affecting,” she added.
The director suggested meeting with class representatives tomorrow instead.
NCAD students do not plan to attend this meeting, saying that class rep meetings are ineffective.
Guinan, who is at the forefront of this student action campaign, said, “Noone is going to go to that tomorrow.”
She said,”he wants to continue the format which has been unsuccessful over the past few years. He has a bureaucratic approach to communication, in which class representatives meet heads who meet directors and in the process of this top-down format, all communiation gets muddled and vague. Students never leave these meetings feeling any clearer on what’s happening in their college.”
In McGonagle’s absence, the students occupied two of the largest rooms in the college.
Students dicussed their concerns, including their fate of their final-year degree exhibition and overcrowding in classes as well as the mystery surrounding fees and charges in the college.
Guinan, a graduate of fine art media and visual culture, said, “the director did not show up today but over 300 students did show up and in the director’s absence we occupied both the board room and the staff room. Those two rooms are full of students who have been describing and discussing the various problems that have been happening in college over the past few years.”
“We have now decided between us that we will occupy these spaces until the director addresses us with an adequate progress report on our demands issued last Friday,” she added.
Following the discussion, members of the Students’ Union approached McGonagle for a meeting once again.
Initially,he agreed to meet students in St Catherine’s church but insisted that cameras would not be present.
However, it appears the meeting did not take place and the students called off their sit-in for the day shortly after 4pm.
The protest is expected to continue tomorrow.
NCAD students are being supported by staff members in the college, along with trade union SIPTU, literary critic Terry Eagleton, artist Jesse Jones and senior lecturer at UCD’s School of Sociology Kieran Allen.
The University of the Arts London, LSC Arts and the University of Amsterdam, where students have also occupied spaces, have also shown support for NCAD students.