Outrage over the Pratt Show – #BringBackPrattShow

J. M. DeSantis Blog Post

Writing the present blog piece is going to be a challenge for me. Not because I’m at a loss of words to write. On the contrary, I could probably write white hot about the topic for days on end, without food or sleep, and still not have gotten it all down. The trouble is remaining calm and levelheaded while I write this. Even now, my hands shake at the news and details concerning Pratt Institute’s decision to cancel their famous Pratt Show.

There is a petition on Change.org to help bring the show back: https://www.change.org/p/pratt-institute-administration-objections-to-the-pratt-show-cancellation. Whether you are a Pratt graduate, student or not, it’s worth reading. It explains, in detail, the repercussions and accusations (they are severe) surrounding the cancellation of the Pratt Show, not least because the school seems to be basing their decision solely on their financial interests–not on their students’ best interests.

For those not familiar, the Pratt Show is an annual exhibition of graduating seniors’ work which Pratt Institute has held for over thirty years. The show is open to the public and is attended by students, graduates, family members, and even industry professionals looking for new talent. It is the culmination of a Pratt students’ long struggle and sacrifice to learn and develop in their respective area of study in the arts.

The Pratt Show offers at the very least a chance to display the result of that hard work, and even offers the chance to network and begin the first steps in a hopefully successful career in the arts. I myself am a Pratt graduate, and participated in the show, as did many others before and after me. It was a wonderful way to end four frustrating and difficult years.

I’ve never written about my experiences as a student at Pratt Institute, and generally that’s because I’ve tried to live by the motto “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” If you read my blog piece about the fire that happened in Pratt’s Main Building (two years ago to the day, in fact), you have an inkling about my feelings toward my Alma Mater. I consider the four years I attended Pratt to be the most tumultuous and angry time of my life. No doubt some of those emotions are linked to personal struggles I faced in my college years; however, to blame it all on that would seriously diminish just how questionable I felt and still feel Pratt’s actions are. The cancellation of the Pratt Show is just one more example.

This was a school that cost me $100,000 to attend from September 2001 through May 2005 (expensive for the time); a school which had its professors threatening to go on strike during that time (because they were the lowest paid in New York City); a school which seemed to waste money on paving, tearing up and repaving the main road on campus (in a six month period); a school which had scaffolding all over their beautiful, historic buildings for “restorations” (which was a reason they gave for our high tuition) though I never saw a single worker on campus restoring anything; a school which had its accreditation up for question twice in that time, and a number of other offenses beside. All of this motivated me to ask a professor if, as a student paying such an expensive tuition, I had the right to an audit of where my money was going. Unfortunately, I never did get an audit.

This same school that at now twice the tuition cost I paid (that is, $50,000 per year, from what I’m told), continues to call me for donations when they’re charging such a prohibitive fee as it is. It’s appalling they expect more from me, especially considering the laughable “graduate support” I received from their Center for Career and Professional Development years after I graduated when I decided to bury the hatchet and give Pratt a second chance. This same school wants their current students, paying $50,000+ per year in tuition, to pay for their own year-end show!

I cannot go on without commenting that I’m not surprised that the ComD department (Communication Design) is (allegedly) the only department willing to hold a department-specific show in an attempt to make up for the cancelled Pratt Show. They were, after all, the only department I dealt with which I felt was welcoming, encouraging and helpful at Pratt (on an administration end–please understand, I do not make blanket statements about Pratt’s faculty, though there are some who I recall were not deserving even of the seeming pennies Pratt pays). Yet even the ComD department’s attempt to organize a “replacement show” is seemingly being sabotaged by Pratt.

I could say so much more, but I’ll save it for another time. I’ve kept silent about my opinions of my Alma Mater for a long, long time, but this was more than I could take. It is reprehensible how a school that is famous for teaching and honouring the arts can stoop so low as to make a decision such as this one. With the tuition Pratt students pay and the effort and sacrifice they make to push through the rigorous curriculum at Pratt, the students deserve at least this much to celebrate their achievements. The Pratt Show, in four years, was the one thing I felt the school did right by their students, and now they’re even taking that away.

To be frank, I am ashamed to be a Pratt graduate. I always felt they were riding off of the coattails of their former years. Whatever Pratt’s past history and standards, it has fallen low from that lofty height. After all, Pratt got its good name because of the pride and success so many of its graduates enjoyed in former years, and now it seeks (given, unwittingly) to squelch that pride.

Please read the article and sign the petition. Whether you are a Pratt student, an alumni or not, whether you are a student or graduate of any university in fact, this is an important cause to support. It is the duty of any school to uphold their commitment to their students and help them rise up and succeed during their enrollment and afterwards. Show your support for the students who are not willing to accept this gross mistreatment and misrepresentation by Pratt Institute.

Article and Petition: https://www.change.org/p/pratt-institute-administration-objections-to-the-pratt-show-cancellation

NOTE: Use the hashtag, #BringBackPrattShow in any mention of this event, this article or the above petition


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