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Rietveld Academy to Stay Put

After a four month battle with the board, teachers and students at the Rietveld Academy have won the fight to stay put, in the Rietveld designed building the school originally started in.  Everyone sounds relieved and the students we spoke to today say the school's priority has to be quality not growth.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 17-09-2009

The board of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy has given in to pressure from teaching staff and students and has cancelled the plan to move from the Gerrit Rietveld designed building to the former GAK-office in Bos en Lommer.

The apparent reason for the board’s desire to move was limited space.  “That is utter crap,” says Sanel Kadic a student from Bosnia studying fine arts.  “Of course there is never enough space, and the air is often full of complaints, but once we dive into our work, we realize that everybody is not here at the same time.  I think it is just a matter of them organizing it properly.”

Tijmen van Grootheest, chairman of the board of directors, says the move was cancelled because the financial advantages would not be able to compensate for "the emotional damage caused to the organization.”

Joey van der Kaay, another fine arts student, says he doesn't know of any student who agreed with the move.  “We were all asked to fill in a survey and the results must have been overwhelming,” he says.  There was also an online petition signed by 3600 people.

The fight to stay was organized by Linda van Deursen who form the outset complained that neither staff nor students had been consulted about the decision.  “I'm really very happy,” she says.  “They should have listened to us in a much earlier stage.''

Further angering students are the rumours about more space mostly being needed to accommodate more students.  “Of course we are speaking from a position of privilege because we are already here,” says Van der Kaay, “but this school should be about quality not quantity.  I don’t think it needs to get any bigger.”

Kadic agrees:  “Of course our opinion means nothing if the decision becomes an economical one.  But the thing is, this space was designed for us. We should be here.  It shouldn’t be about money, more students or a bigger school.  It’s not what we want to stand for.”

How or if the space will be reorganized to fix these so-called space issues is yet to be released.  Teachers have told that using the Sandberg facility, which currently houses the Masters’ programmes, may be an option.

Images: main Sanel Kadic and Joey van der Kaay, small Sanel Kadic

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