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Save the Arts at LIU: Surprise Closure of Arts Department Sparks Outrage

Updated: Nov 11, 2021


On Friday, October 15, 2021, class registration for Spring 2022 opened for students at LIU Brooklyn, but to many people’s surprise, there was only one art class being offered.

With no prior indication that these classes were no longer being taught, art teachers and students were stunned by this news. This left teachers without any classes to teach and students without any classes to take.

Some of the artwork created by students in the Art department (Photo: Amaya Henry)

Students Perspective

Removing almost all of the art classes left very few electives for students to enroll in.

This resulted in students having to take core classes as electives. “I almost took an accounting class as an elective and I’m a computer science major,” junior Nicholas Fraser said.

Freshman Allison Naylor struggled putting her schedule together as it was hard to find electives, especially as a first-year student. “We had our schedules for this semester created for us by our advisors, but this time around we were left to do it on our own which was very confusing," Naylor said.

The lack of electives made the process that much more challenging.

Charlotte Jones, another freshman, cited that having no art electives made it difficult to fulfill the requirements needed for her major.

Like Jones, many other students are feeling as if the university has abandoned them as they are largely unresponsive to emails and have left many unanswered questions such as: Why have the majority of the art classes been taken away? Will there be new electives to replace them?

A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated that the schedule making process was, “horrible,” due to the fact that she was not receiving any guidance from her Promise Coach, who she tried to reach on multiple occasions.

Students of all majors have voiced their desire to be informed about what is taking place at their school, but answers from administration have been scarce.

The school’s administration on both campuses have been largely silent on the issue which has further frustrated the student body.

Teachers Perspective

Along with students, teachers have been left in limbo as well. As many of the art classes have yet to be reinstated, many of these dedicated professors are left jobless.

This includes a professor, who has requested to remain anonymous.

“The least they could have done was send us an email before registration opened. It just sucks to feel unnoticed by your peers and higher ups,” she said.

The professor added that some of the teachers were only given two weeks to move out of the rooms that they have taught in for decades, all while continuing to teach their current classes.

She highlighted yet another grievance regarding the art program saying, “You can’t have an underfunded department and expect to have students flocking [here].”

It also appears that the administration has plans for turning the art studio, which currently inhabits the ninth floor of the Humanities building, into something else. What this room will be turned into is yet another question without an answer.

With all these changes happening in such a short amount of time, one would hypothesize that something major will take the place of the art department, yet there has been no announcements made regarding this change.

Professor Elizabeth Rudey emphasized how great of an art education program LIU once had, stating that at one time, a reporter fromThe New York Times had come and written articles about the art department shows that occurred every Sunday.

Both Rudey and the other professor expressed that since LIU is known for its nursing and pharmacy programs, they felt very unsupported by the other departments.

“It’s a real break for a lot of students, using their brains scientifically and then coming in and being allowed to be creative,” Rudey said regarding students with science majors who take art classes as electives.

Senior Professor Cynthia Dantzic, who has worked at LIU for over 50 years, was among the professors given an unexpected two weeks notice to leave her room.

Dantzic spearheaded an art festival for the NAACP at the Brooklyn Art Museum as well as curated many shows for artists of color in the 60's through the 80's that very few people wanted to show.

Dantzic's dedication to this University is evidence that she is an important piece of living history and she should be treated as such.

All in All

Altogether, with many remaining unanswered questions, what students and teachers want alike is answers; answers they deserve.

Part of the Art Department on the ninth floor of the Humanities Building (Photo: Amaya Henry)

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Please print my letter replying to your article on the Art Dep't.

Cynthia Dantzic, Senior Professor Emerita, Art Department

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