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ACAD addresses sustainability with Calgary students

Students' Association hopes the Calgary college will keep lines of communication open as they grapple with spending that outpaces current revenue projections

ACAD Students' Association member Dalyce Bryant, left, stands with Kayla Gate, Camile Porcheron and Jennifer Herring after a town hall meeting about the institution's future.

Helen Pike / Metro Order this photo

ACAD Students' Association member Dalyce Bryant, left, stands with Kayla Gate, Camile Porcheron and Jennifer Herring after a town hall meeting about the institution's future.

Students at the Alberta College of Art and Design have had some questions about their institution's financial stability answered after a recent town hall.

Last week, news broke that the art college was on the brink of unsustainability, according to a report obtained by Metro.

The report detailed that spending was outpacing revenues, and how $1.2 million in unrestricted reserves had been used to balance the most recent budget.

In a presentation on Oct. 11 to the community, a power point presentation suggested one of the actions the college would take is a "program analysis" and "curricular renovation" where the school would look at the cost of programs, and prioritize the college's activities accordingly.

On Wednesday, at a town hall for students, where media was not permitted access, ACAD Students' Association leaders told reporters the message from administration was hopeful and attempted to ease some of the rumours and misinformation floating in the community.

"In a void of information, rumours get spread," said ACADSA director of leadership and governance Camille Porcheron. "There were questions about program prioritization goals ... fingers crossed we'll be able to advocate heavily enough and bug administration enough that they'll be consistent with communication."

She attended a meeting specifically for faculty, held before the student-focused town hall, where fears bubbled over jobs while the school was prioritizing which programs are most important for the college.

In the past, she said the school has sprung changes while trying to nimbly adapt, but students have felt left out of consultations.

One student leaving the meeting early said she saw the information as a message that despite the unease, all is business as usual at ACAD.

"We were definitely encouraged to come to the meeting and hear what is going on," said Sheryl Spencer who is a mature student. "Right now we're still here, everything is fine if we want to grow and expand. We just have some planning to do."

But the report by Ronald B. Bond Consulting obtained by Metro, whose author attended and spoke at the student town hall, suggested that the school's middle management were either unaware of the institutional financial problems, or else turning a blind eye after years of hearing the same message.

The report also noted that there are feelings that ACAD suffers from inequitable funding from the province, and due to the tuition freeze imposed by the province can't keep up with inflation.

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