Design students fight for funding, better equipment

More than 400 students in the design department signed a petition for increased funding for three design machine workshops in the Design Center, according to Rigoberto Pulido, president of the Design Students Association and senior industrial design major.

The letter, which was sent to three College of the Arts administrators, requested that the administrators look at the “major problems the design department’s workshops are facing,” according to the petition.

Numerous tools and power machines in the workshops – or facilities designated for design students to use – are outdated, with some originating from the World War II era, according to Pulido.

The design department is one of the smallest departments in the College of the Arts, consisting of 620 students who are split among three majors: interior design, industrial design and general design, according to operations coordinator for the Design Center Ryan Kosanke. All 620 students must take a class in the Lower Division Workshop, according to Pulido.

When the petition was first circulated in February, about 400 signatures were acquired within the first week, according to Pulido.

“Some machines are broken and will not operate,” Kosanke said. “Some equipment is partially functional, and a portion of the equipment is out of adjustment. A few units of equipment have been out of order for a couple years.”

College of the Arts Interim Dean Chris Miles, College of the Arts Associate Dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette and Design Department Chair Martin Herman all received the petition in early March.

“I appreciate the sentiment of the students,” Miles said. “I am working with Martin [Herman] and with the department to determine priorities in some of the concerns.”

By the end of March, Miles visited the design department to get a better picture of the problems with the workshops, according to Pulido.

After hearing about the petition for art lockers last semester, students in the design department felt a need to have their voices heard too, according to Danny Morales, a sophomore industrial design major and student assistant in the department.

“This petition shows that students care about their future, about what they aspire to do,” Pulido said.

Because of the equipment failures, professors have had to adjust their projects to accommodate the types of tools available to their students, “affecting student’s time, grades, and personal budgets,” according to the petition text.

Others, like design lecturer Matias Ocaña, have opted to bring their own equipment to class to help students.

“I’ve had to eliminate one of the projects and incorporate some of that project into another one,” Ocaña said. “Sometimes I bring tools because I have a shop. To me, the most important thing is the learning for the students.”

Many students and faculty said the best solution for the problem is hiring a technician in the shop to make the necessary repairs to the tools and machinery.

“[Miles] is aware of these needs and has verbally acknowledged that he sees we have a valid need for the additional staff member,” Kosanke said. “But he thinks it will be years until that need can be resolved. Thus, any money spent on repairs and replacement of equipment will be a temporary Band-Aid.”

Miles, however, said he plans on meeting with Herman on Tuesday to start laying out plans for improvements in the department.

“We are looking at what equipment needs to be improved, updated,” Miles said. “It’s about what is most urgent and what can wait and what can fund.”

Miles has approved new table saws for the College of the Arts, but delivery isn’t expected until fall 2013, according to Kosanke.

News Editor Angela Ratzlaff contributed to this report.

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