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NJCU Media Students march for art

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More stories from Monica Sarmiento

 

Students and faculty from NJCU’s Media Arts Department met on Thursday, May 4 to protest the administration’s decision to abruptly suspend applications to the department’s graduate program. Integrated Media Arts Production, IMAP, is the only Media production MFA program in New Jersey. This May it will be celebrating it’s first graduating class of four.

Carrying handmade signs bearing the hashtag, #SAVEIMAP and the slogan, “WE’RE STUDENTS NOT CUSTOMERS,” students marched from the Gilligan Student Union Building to the center of campus. Together they chanted “Save IMAP!” and handed out information to passerby.

Rolando Nieves, one of IMAP’s graduate students, led the round of student speeches. “They say that we are not sustainable, how can they justify that?” Rolando began. “We don’t take up space. We don’t take up a lot of their faculty and resources, in fact we help out the undergraduates.”Many of the graduate students have served as Teachers Assistants, taught undergraduate media classes, and work throughout the department.

At a meeting between the IMAP students and faculty and Dean Joao Sedycias earlier that week, those from the department were told that the suspension of applications is partly due to low enrollment. The program had only received three applicants before the suspension. The deadline to apply was May 15th.

Joel Katz revealed after the march that IMAP actually receive five applicants, two of which were incomplete. There were a number of other students that intended to apply by the May 15th deadline.

A first year graduate student, Nicole Pommetti, also addressed the crowd. “What’s great about this program is that you are not limited… there’s not that many programs like this that exist… [the suspension] is really, really unfair.”

Students March Right to the Administration 

“Save IMAP at NJCU,” echoed the halls and staircases as the group marched into Hepburn Hall to see administration. One
student said, “They wanted us to make noise, so that’s what we’re doing.”

Provost Daniel Julius was not in his office at the time, but students crowded in and around the Presidents Office to speak to Dean Sedycias and Dr. Jimmy Jung, Vice President for Student Affairs.

Another IMAP second year graduate student, Jerry Aquino, expressed his concerns for the program’s suspension and cited opportunities that IMAP has given him, such as the chance to screen his work at Princeton University. If NJCU ends IMAP, “My program is only as good as the year I graduated,” he said.

Dean Sedycias reiterated that at the moment the program is not sustainable at the university and the suspension will allow them time to figure out how to help IMAP grow. This decision was made without the input of Marcin Ramocki, Joel Katz, Jane Steuerwald, and Roddy Bogawa — the faculty behind IMAP. The faculty, according Sedycias, should have been responsible for recruiting new students. Protesters argued however that this is not a failure on the faculty’s part but the university’s for not taking advantage of IMAP and advertising it enough.

Dr. Jung explained again that low enrollment was a contributing factor to the suspension and that at this rate it seemed to administration that the number of applications was unlikely to rise over the summer or in future semesters. This was met with opposition from the crowd.

Another student spoke up, “I’m one of those students that is considering [applying to IMAP]. I’m about to graduate in a few
weeks, and I wanted to be back in this network… because of people that have really succeeded in the program.” A few students clapped as she continued, “This means something to me… you made this decision for me and I have a problem with that!”

Roddy Bagawa came forward to speak as well, “I’m trying not to be emotional because I spent 18 years designing [IMAP], and going to course proposal meetings, and curriculum meetings. In three semesters you guys are dismantling 18 years. Time is worse than anything to lose.”

Dr. Jung thanked the crowd of students and assured them that their voices were heard, “For those that spoke up, the alumni, and the faculty — we heard you.” Plans for a follow-up meeting between administration, IMAP faculty and the eight graduate students were made for this upcoming week.

Currently, the suspension on IMAP applications is still in place and a change.org petition has been created by Rolando Nieves to prompt the NJCU administration to save and support the program.

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