This Is A Protest: GSA Students' Open Day Protest

Tomorrow brings an open day protest at Glasgow School of Art; we've caught up with some of the students around campus to get their feelings about this bold statement action

Article by News Team | 26 Oct 2016

“I’m not saying it because I don’t like you, I’m saying it because I care, because I love you.” That's how one final year Painting and Printmaking student describes her attitude towards complaining about the Glasgow School of Art. Tomorrow brings a shrewdly-timed student protest, with Glasgow School of Art students taking to Renfrew Street on the GSA Open Day to raise their voices about issues around studio space, over-stretched teaching staff and communication with senior management. You can find the petition and full student statement here.

They’re taking their cue from similar open day protests at UCL, and it’s already brought some press attention from the likes of the Herald and Scotsman. “I don’t think this is an individual case,” another final year student says. “It’s not even necessarily art school, but generally higher education.” 

GSA Students' Association President Laura Glennie adds: “On a personal level I would like to express the fact that I feel the discussions in GSA mirror a lot of discontent in general with how the government deal with the arts and higher education. What excites me the most is that active, political, creative people are taking notice and disproving the accusation that students can moan but not make a difference in the wider national picture.

The new protest also comes after the 25% Extra student protest exhibition in June this year, which took its title from one primary complaint. As the poster for the open day protest puts it: ‘The inability to accommodate 25% extra student population is compromising our learning environment.’

The 25% Extra manifesto put it in plainer terms: ‘While the school aims to grow the student body… no efforts have been made to increase per capita staffing or studio space.’ However, another student from Fine Art is careful to make clear, “It’s a constructive criticism, not ‘Death to GSA.’”

A spokesperson for The Glasgow School of Art has responded to the planned protest, saying “We encourage our students to be engaged and we have a number of more formal routes than the one chosen for raising concerns and for working constructively with us in both defining and implementing change which we believe will enhance the student experience.

“Our planned growth in student numbers is being met alongside significant strategic investment in our campus, in our staffing and resources, not least the restoration of the Mackintosh Building and the Stow Building as a new home for the School of Fine Art.”

Speaking to students, they’re quick to clarify that this is not an outright attempt to put off students who are considering taking a place in GSA. Instead, the message is more cautious: “Come here but come with your eyes open. If you want change, you’ll have to rally for it.”

In a positive move, senior management have met to discuss the students' action. As one first year Architecture student says, “I would be happy to be at a school which listens to its students, but it is sad that it's come to this.”

Join students from 10am-3pm tomorrow. Read more and support the action here via