Students pursuing majors in Design for Technology and Clothing and Textiles have realised their courses will be phased out, according to class representative Ben Alder. The realisation came after a meeting between the Division of Sciences Pro-Vice Chancellor Keith Hunter and design school students.
Before the meeting on Friday 31 July, design students held a protest on the Union lawn. The protest eventuated as a last-ditch effort to save the condemned major subject. Alder revealed that, despite the protest, the conversation has changed to “how the university plan to teach out the remaining students”.
At the protest, examples of students’ work were displayed to showcase their abilities. There was also a petition, which received just over 1300 signatures, 800 on paper and 500 online.
Design students understood that there was confusion about the major and created a booklet to explain how individual design students defined their course. The protesters handed it out in the hope it would inform people about the subject and what was at stake.
The students presented the department with a 16-page document outlining how valuable the department is. The submission also highlighted various feasible futures for the department, all to no avail.
The major is being phased out due to low equivalent full-time student (EFTS) numbers, and the department’s current financial situation. According to Alder, the students hoped that their efforts would “be significant”, but “following the meeting with Keith [Hunter], we realised that it had been pretty much pointless, despite alternatives put forward by the students themselves”.
Local and national media attended the protest, including Dunedin TV and 3 News. The media attention showed Alder that “there are people out there who also think the situation is unfair/uncalled for”.
However, their fight is not over yet. Although it looks certain that the design major will be phased out, the students’ focus has now changed. Alder said: “We, the class reps, along with the OUSA are planning to fight for the students’ rights to finish their degrees as planned.”