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MFA Visual Arts Students at Columbia Demand Tuition Refund

MFA Visual Arts Students at Columbia Demand Tuition Refund

“We were promised something that we don’t have and we’re not getting”

The students claim the facilities are terrible and that the some of the faculty is missing in action.

The Columbia Spectator reports:

With decrepit facilities and missing faculty, MFA Visual Arts students demand tuition refund

When Elsa Lama, SVA ’18, chose to attend Columbia’s Masters of Fine Arts Visual Arts program in 2016, she was drawn by the promise of participating in an interdisciplinary program with renowned faculty, peers, and the resources of an Ivy League university.

Two years later, and a few weeks from graduation, Lama, along with 51 of the 54 students in the program, has demanded a full tuition refund for the 2017-18 academic year, stating that she has not received the education that she was promised.

In her studio in Prentis Hall, Lama has faced freezing temperatures, flooding in the hallways, and pieces of limestone falling from the ceilings. She has not been able to meet several of the professors that she came to Columbia to work with, including Sanford Biggers, an internationally acclaimed artist who has been on sabbatical for more than two years. And she, along with her classmates, has spent countless hours reaching out to facilities, writing letters, and sitting in meetings with Columbia administrators.

“I came here on the premise that these were the two years of my life that I could fully invest myself and submerge myself into my practice and my work and my career, and a lot of this time was taken by writing letters and meeting with my peers so I could come up with some solution about the most basic [issues] about the roof that we’re under and the temperatures that we live in,” Lama said. “We were promised something that we don’t have and we’re not getting.”


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Is Columbia U run by the VA? Sounds like it, except no one is dying.

healthguyfsu | May 1, 2018 at 9:07 am

Most graduate programs that don’t lead to professional certifications and don’t come with tuition paid are a waste of money. There’s no funding in them and no demand for those degrees.

daniel_ream | May 1, 2018 at 11:09 am

She got exactly what she paid for: a piece of paper that says “Columbia University” on it. Had the university delivered exactly what she wanted, she’d be no better off.

She’s receiving a MFA for two years of whining, complaining and creating crappy “art”. She should just shut up, take her degree and move on to her new job as a barista.

VaneWimsey | May 1, 2018 at 5:56 pm

“Two years later, and a few weeks from graduation”? Isn’t this like eating your whole steak and then demanding a refund because it was medium-rare instead of rare?

Columbia’s endowment exceeds $10B. The trustees could upgrade the art studio with the spare change they shake out of the sofa.