September 4, 2002

Architecture, Art & Planning Students Opposed to Proposal

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Like many chalkings throughout Cornell’s campus, these are bright and colorful. They were meant to attract attention and turn heads. But the messages written on the front walls of Sibley Hall don’t advertise tryouts or meetings.

“AAP is HERE TO STAY!,” proclaimed one message.

“COLLEGE OF AAP is here and will be here,” declared another.

And so on. Students in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning are widely opposed to the proposal advanced this summer by President Hunter R. Rawlings III and Provost Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin to dissolve the University’s smallest college.

Rawlings and Martin cited a lack of “intellectual and academic integration” as the key motivation, mentioning also in a memo sent to college department chairs on July 15 that the dissolution “could thereby realize administrative and budgetary savings.”

If enacted, the proposal would move the departments in the architecture college to existing colleges in the University.

“I’ve talked to several dozen students in all three [departments], and I haven’t encountered one single person who would consider [the proposal],” said Ben Rockey-Harris ’04, the representative of the architecture college on the Student Assembly (S.A.) and a city and regional planning major.

“I think it’s a terrible idea, and I think it’s too bad that [Rawlings] seems so obsessed with the idea. The departments don’t fit anywhere else,” he added.

Rockey-Harris cited an excellent student-to-faculty ratio, a unity within the college and cohesive departments as advantages to the architecture college.

“It was very sneaky of the administration to pull this over the summer,” he added.

Niall Atkinson grad, a member of the History of Architecture and Urbanism Society, agrees.

“It doesn’t sound like a particularly good idea,” he said, noting that all three departments are “studio-based disciplines, which makes sense to keep them together.”

Other students see even more disadvantages of dissolving the college.

“I think personally it’s a bad idea,” said Jermaine Gause ’04, a minority representative on the S.A. and a city and regional planning major. “The name [of the architecture college] is really well-known in the real world.”

Gause also worried that student organizations in the college would dissolve if the proposal were to be approved.

“Just the historical background of the school and although it’s a small school, it’s like family, you know everybody,” Gause said.

Despite the unrest following the proposal’s announcement, some students have acknowledged the efforts and viewpoints of administrators within the college.

Orlando Soria ’04, a fine arts major, acknowledged Dean Porus Olpadwala’s efforts to keep students informed. Soria was also willing to consider the points made by Rawlings and Martin.

“I think the argument is a really valid one,” he said. “Personally, I would like to know how my department would fare in another college.”

“[The Department of Art] really should be with more design- and art-related fields,” Soria added.

He also wondered whether the organizational problem was indicative of a larger one at Cornell.

“It being the smallest college, it sounds better to “streamline things,” Atkinson added.


Students met yesterday at 5 p.m. to discuss the proposal with Olpadwala and others in the college. Thursday’s S.A. meeting will hear a resolution against the proposal, and Rockey-Harris hopes to “put students on whatever committees are formed” to advise future developments.

The final decision will go before the Board of Trustees in January.

Archived article by Andy Guess