The Art History and Visual Arts (AHVA) department designed its senior comprehensives (comps) requirements to simulate professional environments for artists, art historians and filmmakers. Studio art majors host a senior art show in Weingart gallery; Media Arts and Culture students show their productions at a film festival on campus; art history majors present their research at a student symposium. But a severe lack of funding for AHVA majors’ comps forces students to incur the costs themselves, creating an unfair disparity between students who can afford the proper resources for their comps and students who cannot.
Senior comps challenge students to create a project that encompasses the entirety of their undergraduate studies, yet AHVA students struggle to meet this mandate on a limited budget. While the college allows for AHVA students to apply for Academic Student Projects (ASP) grants, these grants are limited to $50-300 per project and are not intended to be the sole support of any project. This means that the remaining cost of any AHVA majors’ comps project is usually out-of-pocket.
Studio art majors frequently spend upward of $500 on materials. Media Arts and Culture majors are expected to fund Screen Actors Guild and Union fees for hired actors, risk insurance, location fees and stunt coordinator compensation. AHVA majors are encouraged to conduct their research by experiencing artwork in person, which is financially impossible for many seniors who must fly to see the subject of their comps. Many AHVA majors are stuck paying off project expenses for months following their comps presentations.
AHVA comps are unique in their commitment to creativity, but the most creative, aesthetically pleasing projects are often the most costly. This can be due to the fact that some students have the money to buy a better camera or more materials. The lack of funding adds undue pressure to AHVA majors, especially when the only patrons are often family and friends.
The Young and Anderson Funds in the Diplomacy and World Affairs and politics departments, respectively, cater to students who wish to undertake original research in their comps. Additional grants and fundraising options such as these need to be available to AHVA majors for comps. The starving artist stereotype should not begin in college.
This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental community.