An art major airs her grievances

Carly Davis

Last week, I needed to get into the Abbey art studios. It was 7:45pm on a Thursday, well within open building hours. When I ran down to the building and went to open the back door, it was locked. I walked around to the front. No luck. 

When I called the public safety non-emergency line, they let me know what time it was. I let them know that the building was, according to the signs on the front door, open for two more hours.

Like any other academic building on campus, the Abbey studios are classrooms. Students need access to those rooms to complete required studio hours, access materials and finish projects. However, Thursday was not the first time I had been locked out of the building. 

It’s happened plenty of times before, both when it’s nice enough outside to sit and wait for public safety and in the middle of J-term where I’ve had to huddle by the doors in the snow. It was raining on Thursday, and I waited five minutes in the covered doorway for the van to pull up and let me in. 

The dispatcher asked which art building I was outside of–the new one, or the old one. The problem with that is there are four art buildings, and they’re all old. My department is clustered on the bottom corner of campus habitually ignored by the rest of campus.

35th St. and 6th Ave. have both been destroyed by the project, riddled with potholes and massive breaks in the pavement haphazardly filled with gravel. 6 ½  Ave. is one of the worst roads on campus, and I will drive around the block to avoid it at all costs. 

The greenspace around the Abbey studios is heavily polluted by both students and contractors. Construction noise as well as waste disposal has led to the destruction of a rabbit burrow I have enjoyed watching since fall 2019. Now, I pick up broken glass, crushed cans, pieces of rubber and condom wrappers on my walk to class. 

For being the department on campus most associated with aesthetics and design, it sure is ironic that it has the ugliest landscape. Without the murals on 6th avenue and yarn wall outside of the Abbey house, you would have no clue that we’re there at all. Most of the campus community doesn’t have a clue about which buildings are which. 

As a peer mentor, I’ve had to help other peer members find a specific art building multiple times. I would put money on any given student not being able to tell me which building is the Abbey House, the ceramics building or either of the art studios. 

The official campus map doesn’t separate the two studio buildings or include the ceramics studio at all, leading to plenty of confusion when non-major students try to find classrooms.

There are no street lights on 35th street and no blue safety lights. When asked to install lighting on the road back in fall 2019, SGA told the arts senator that the school would reevaluate the need for lighting after the Lindberg project was completed over two years later. For anyone wondering, the road is still dark even if it’s closed to traffic. 

I’m not saying every student should complete a module learning everything about my department, but some signage would help. And maybe some accurate maps, while we’re at it. And re-paving the roads. And giving us our parking lot back now that contractors are no longer there every day. And fixing the broken window in the drawing studio. 

And while I’m airing my grievances, maybe students could treat art and graphic design as the valid academics major they are, and not as easy degrees the Augustana community can sideline to the least-maintained, least-recognizable corner of campus.