UPDATE: the text of this post seems to have mysteriously disappeared about 10 minutes ago. Here it is again. Since then, President Reinharz sent out a graceful email explaining the situation. It as I was told earlier – the Rose is to be closed, and its collection auctioned off. Reinharz says,
I am satisfied that our commitment is unwavering; that someday we will look back and say that when the quality of education and student services was at stake, we made hard choices so that Brandeis could emerge even stronger.
My thoughts on this are still conflicted. On the one hand, I love the Rose. It made Brandeis unique – which other liberal arts schools have such a prestigious museum on their grounds? On the other, this auction could raise tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars; I don’t know the full value of the collection. Was this a good decision? As I stated earlier, only if there are terms allowing us to “buy back” items at a later date, in sunnier times – such a stipulation could be written into the sale. For some of the more priceless items in our collection, this definitely seems like a logical step. Otherwise… I really don’t know. What other options were on the table? I wonder if we’ll ever find out. By this point, I doubt it.
I’m sure the recent falling-through of the new Arts building donor (about 3 months ago) had something to do with this. In the associated press release, we were told that:
Today’s decision will set in motion a long-term plan to sell the art collection and convert the professional art facility to a teaching, studio, and gallery space for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.
So this serves two purposes – to raise capital for the University, and serve as the new teaching space for the Fine Arts department. You gotta give it to them – sort of smart. In a tragic kinda way.
Original post below.
A source that shall remain nameless just informed me that the Board of Trustees, in their special secret Executive session today, voted to close down the Rose and auction off its collection. Let me here offer a brief interjection:
This inquisitive individual was interested in my thoughts on this and other issues related to the budgetary decisions. My response:
I was shocked to hear that the Rose is being closed, and you are in fact the first person who’s informed me of this. One of the things that makes Brandeis unique is its prestigious art collection and excellent museum, especially for its size. To close the Rose is a terrible loss to the University, and to auction off its collection as a cost-saving measure is tragic. People say that in times of hardship, the arts are always cut first, and this seems to uphold that maxim. I would only begin to consider such a plan acceptable if there were specific provisions allowing us to buy back the collection in times of sunnier finances; since I don’t know the details, I can’t say much more than that.
Talking to people around campus, I can say that everyone I’ve talked to wishes there was more of a student voice in the decision-making and brainstorming surrounding the budget cuts. This is our university, and so far, we’ve been pretty marginalized in these decisions. The general student body had no idea about the closing of the Rose, no idea about the proposed curriculum changes until we saw leaked emails, and no idea about the decision to cut merit scholarships for study abroad until it had been made. Students care deeply about the University and want to be a part of the idea-generating and decision-making process when making these cuts. Since most budget cut decisions have been decrees from above, they startle and anger students. Everywhere, students have this apprehension – what will be cut next? Students need to be more involved. With each cut, I feel more and more alienated from the Brandeis I have come to love. I’m not the only one.
For these reasons, we have begun to organize for more involvement in decisions. Last thursday, I helped organize a demonstration outside a closed faculty meeting to protest for greater transparency. Prior to the demonstration, I and two others – Danny Cairns, a graduate student, and Sahar Massachi, a fellow sophomore, tried to enter the meeting at the door. The campus police were called and we were interrogated and told to leave.
Since then, we have seen an outpouring of faculty support for student involvement, and a renewed willingness on the part of the Administration to reach out to students. But these cuts are still coming after too little deliberation and without enough student input. They are being pressed upon us with alarming urgency. Its scary.