We are calling for a mandatory schoolwide (including Portikus) meeting as a matter of urgency to discuss structural inequalities and abuse. We would like this meeting to be moderated by the Rektor, Philippe Pirotte.
The last five years of male to female student ratio, along with the last twenty years of male to female professors and staff reveal longstanding systemic inequality. These statistics exclude the Architecture school.
Systemic Gender Inequality
The two most recent appointments at a senior level have been male, exacerbating gender inequality at the highest structural level of the school. We are aware that gender equality was an important consideration in discussions about the Rektorat. There was, however, no student involvement in the appointment of Peter Fischli. The students would like to ask if gender was discussed by the professors in this context. There are currently seven male professors and three female professors.
This semester, there are two female students and fourteen male students in the class of Willem De Rooij. While we have no desire to see blanket gender ratios imposed on an institutional level, this ratio is alarming, and has serious consequences for current class members.
Lack of Procedure and Support Regarding Violent Incidents
The school does not currently have clear procedures to follow when dealing with violent incidents. We suggest a simple, formal procedure to be implemented and followed after any report of abuse or harassment.
In the past, not having an appropriate system has resulted in prolonged negotiations, blurred communication and impeded decisionmaking. Furthermore, incidents of harassment, perhaps due to a lack of infrastructure explicitly supportive of victims, have gone unreported. Clear and thorough structural measures need to be taken so that victims can always feel that they can report abuse safely, in confidence and without fear of incidents being trivialised or normalised.
We suggest that:
- An existing staff member somebody present on a daily basis could be designated as a goto person.
- A list of Englishspeaking doctors, counsellors, legal advisors, therapists, etc. should be kept accessible and up to date.
- A first aid kit be available after office hours.
Encouraging Healthy Attitudes Towards Mental Health
At the last Ratsitzsung it was announced that a counsellor would be brought into school. We want to underline our support. We suggest weekly visiting hours as an ideal format.
Safeguarding Women At All Levels
Christin Groß-Narten is the representative of women at a staff level. We ask that her job purview be broadened to include Students and Professors or to have a new position created.
Gendered Employment at Portikus
It is a longstanding fact that the Portikus technician team is predominantly, and even exclusively, male while the invigilation team is largely made up of women. Employment in the technical team should be offered to all students without any discrimination. Technical experience serves as an invaluable form of practical education, developing one’s own production skills and improving employment options.
Mike Bouchet and Paul McCarthy at Portikus
During this show employment conditions were exploited and unclear. Students are generally employed specifying either ‘construction’ or ‘invigilation’. Any work falling under other categories, e.g ‘performance participation’, is always specified.
During the Bouchet/McCarthy show the contractual conditions were confused. The invigilators were not only guarding the show but nonnegotiably performing in it. This became apparent when invigilators were asked to wear costumes (red ‘Valentino’ dresses) during the opening, and in the production of the artist edition (producing grilled sausages). This production took place in the exhibition space during opening hours. The invigilators were also requested to wear A-hole energy drink costumes.
Taking into account the daily task of producing sausages, inflating phalluses, the sexist props and scenery, daily work became not only a contractual breach but was offensive to some of the employees.
Practices of Exclusion
The school has a tendency to center much of its activities around drinking explicitly or implicitly. There
is an antiquated premise that prevails and dominates that the bar is an important site of artistic production and education. While we don’t want to deny the legitimacy and function of the bar as an alternative to more orthodox modes of interacting and training, we do feel that structures of abuse are being romanticized and enforced. And, rather than serving as an alternative, many feel that the bar has in effect become the only choice. This is particularly harmful for those who can not afford, in any sense, to drink. Many are thereby excluded from much of the school’s social, intellectual, and discursive moments since fruitful exchange between Students, Professors or Visiting Lecturers tends to happen in an informal, afterhours setting.
Alternative Models of Education
We would like to call for alternatives to the dominant models of education at the school.
For many, the most inclusive, wellreceived and intensive knowledge production of late has been within the extended seminars of John Knight, Catherine Chevalier and Chris Kraus. These concentrated periods of three to four days offer a diversified, dynamic and accessible format.
A varied program of daytime activities from visiting artists, writers, curators and theorists would promote a more inclusive and engaging form of knowledge production.