Petition Regarding Disruption of Learning at Institute of Design

Institute of Design Student Association
Mon Nov 04, 2019


On behalf of a majority of students and faculty, the Institute of Design Student Association sent the following petition to their dean, Provost Kilpatrick, and President Cramb last week, following the closure of the Kaplan Institute due to the Obama Foundation Summit. This petition focuses specifically on their concerns about events and activities held at Kaplan, and the way they have been organized and communicated by the administration. ID students note they have enjoyed sharing space with other IIT students over the past year, and believe some of the concerns outlined here also affect them. To get in touch with the Institute of Design Student Association with questions, concerns, or to add your signature, please contact [email protected].




October 31, 2019

Petition to the President, Provost, and Dean

Institute of Design

Illinois Institute of Technology 


Dear President Alan Cramb, Provost Peter Kilpatrick and Dean Denis Weil,


As you know, the Institute of Design (ID) was temporarily relocated this week to IIT’s downtown campus due to the Obama Foundation’s use of the Kaplan Institute. While we are proud that our building consistently attracts well-known visitors and events, we find this level of disruption to our education, research, sponsored projects, and other activities absolutely unacceptable. 


Unfortunately, the recent events are only one example of the disruption the ID community has experienced over the past year. A few examples of these disruptions – which range in severity – are outlined below. We fear this pattern of disruption sets a dangerous precedent that deprioritizes and devalues our education, in which we have heavily invested our time, energy, and resources.


ID is, first and foremost, an educational institution. We expect our learning to be supported by our physical space, the materials within, and administrative decisions (including when and how the space can be used for non-academic purposes). Students have the reasonable expectation of reliable, consistent access to a space that supports activities including, but not limited to prototyping, critique, collaboration, and faculty engagement. Faculty have the expectation that they will be able to conduct classes, schedule meetings, host project sponsors, and conduct their own research without interference.  


These activities, which are integral to our success as designers, have faced significant interference due to occurrences like those below: 


  • Obama Foundation Summit: Due to the Obama Foundation Summit, students, faculty, and staff were unable to access the Kaplan Institute for over four days. Relocating classes to the downtown campus deprived several courses of necessary materials, tools, and technology at a critical point in the semester. Students and faculty also had to spend time removing or relocating work in progress to ensure it was protected during the event. Nonetheless, several students reported missing or damaged personal belongings and projects; Chicago Design Lab spaces were deconstructed; and pedestals were separated from their desks. 


  • Kevin O’Leary visit: Mr. O’Leary’s visit cut off access to portions of the West side of the building. Several students reported hostile interactions with security guards assigned to Mr. O’Leary, which interfered with meetings and group work. At least one IPRO class was displaced from its usual location with less than 24 hours notice.


  • Open House Chicago: During Open House Chicago, visitors explored the Kaplan Institute without supervision, including ID’s studio space. This event was a distraction to ongoing student work and resulted in some students feeling anxious about the safety and security of the space, and their work. Students were not informed of the potential for unsupervised visitors in the studio over this weekend.


  • Events in the Pitch: ID students – particularly those assigned desks in the balcony – are often disrupted by noise and activity from events held on the Pitch. Students frequently receive little to no notice of these events. Furthermore, several IPRO classes that kick off on the Pitch have been displaced with little to no notice.


  • Netflix film shoot: ID students, faculty, and staff were restricted from first and second floor access during the May 14-16 Netflix shoot. This disrupted at least one class’s final presentations, which were truncated by a full day and relocated to a less than ideal location.


  • Mid-semester move to Kaplan Institute (2018): ID’s mid-semester transition to the Kaplan Institute set several classes behind, as students were unable to access shop machines, materials, and tools required to complete projects. During the first few months at the Kaplan Institute, ID students were asked to remove work in progress and clear their desks several times to help facilitate tours and events. Students reported multiple instances of tour participants taking photos of them and their work without their consent.


We, the undersigned members of the ID and IIT communities, respectfully demand the following:

  • Events requiring mass-scale relocation or limited building access for ID/IPRO students, faculty, or staff for any period of time will not be allowed.


  • Event organizers wishing to reserve space within the Kaplan Institute must include in their event proposal a plan for how they will avoid disrupting regular activity at ID.


  • Events that pose a high risk of disruption (e.g., conferences, summits, building buy-outs, etc.) must be explicitly approved by an ID administrator and a member of IDSA.


  • ID/IPRO students, staff, and faculty must be informed of events hosted at the Kaplan Institute that may interrupt regular activity no less than two weeks in advance.


  • Events that displace or interrupt any ID classes, ongoing work/prototypes, or access to desk space – however temporarily – must include and benefit the ID community.


  • Tours must inform visitors that pictures of student work or students themselves are not allowed on the second floor without express permission.

In summary, we ask that our learning is not unduly disrupted and that ID and IIT work to maintain the integrity of the education we were promised. 


The Institute of Design relies heavily on its reputation to attract students, project sponsors, new faculty, and funding; as ID continues to grow its presence and expand its offerings, this reputation is more important than ever. As future graduates of this program, we look forward to continuing to speak highly of ID to these parties. Many of us also anticipate staying engaged with ID and IIT after we graduate, whether financially, strategically, or otherwise. By bringing these concerns to your attention now, it is our hope that this engagement – current and future – is not jeopardized in any way. 



The undersigned 


Institute of Design students

Ellesia Albert, MDes, 2019

Luciano Annes Nunes, MDM, 2019

Aamena Ansari, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Samar Anwar, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Harini Balasubramanian, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Justin Bartkus, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2020

Tyler Besecker, MDes, 2020

Jessica Bogart Kasper, MDM, 2020

Xuanyu Chen, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Kanal Chhajed, MDes, 2021

Tommie Collins, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2020

M. Todd Cooke, MDes + MBA, 2020

Rodrigo Dyer, MDes, 2021

Samar Elhouar, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2021

Elizabeth C. Engele, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Yuan Feng, MDes, 2020

Ananya Garg, MDes, 2020

Amanda Geppert, MDM’10 + PhD, 2020

Audrey Gordon, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Jessica Granger, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Grace Hanford, Foundation + MDes+ MBA, 2020

Yuqing He, MDes, 2020

ChihYuan Hsiao, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Rachel Huvard, MDes, 2019

Matthew Impola, Foundation + MDes, 2019

Divya Iyengar, MDes, 2019

Alvin Jin, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Lavanya Julaniya, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2020

Surbhi Kalra, MDes, 2019

Yoichi Kanayama, MDM, 2020

Yuta Katsuyama, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2020

Mithila Kedambadi Prasanna, MDes, 2021

Noah Keppers, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Kyungtae Kim, MDes, 2020

Bungaku Edward Kure, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2021

Shinichiro Kuwahara, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Cagla Kuzu, MDes, 2020

Sonia Lala, Foundation + MDes, 2019

Goeun Lee, MDes, 2019

Haiping Liao, MDes, 2021

Sike Liu, MDes, 2021

Rebecca Marshall, MDes, 2018

Ryan Maus, MDes + MBA, 2020

Fan Meng, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2021

Anand Nagapurkar, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2021

Pinakee Naik, MDes, 2020

Jessica Nelson, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2020

Andre Nogueira, PhD, 2019

Veronica Paz Soldan, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2021

Tanvi Ranka, MDes, 2020

Adithya Ravi, MDes, 2020

Julia Rochlin, MDes, 2020

Jason Romano,  oundation + MDes, 2020

Jiani Sapathy, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2020

Prachi Saxena, Foundation + MDes, 2020

R. McKinley Sherrod, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Brian Siegfried, MDes, 2020

J.Smyk, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Faye Sun, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Siwei Sun, MDes, 2021

Pukka Tackie, Foundation + MDes + MBA, 2021

Paolo Tanedo, Foundation + MDes, 2019

Cristina Tarriba, MDes, 2019

Julian Walker, MDes, 2021

Justin Walker, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Diane H Wee, MDes, 2019

Catherine Wieczorek, MDes, 2021

Sze Wing Alpha Wong MDes + MBA, 2021

Wanshan Wu, Foundation + MDes, 2020

Shiya Xiao, MDes, 2020

Xinrui Xu, MDes, 2019

Yun Yang, MDes, 2020

Zhongyue Yang, Foundation + MDes, 2021

Chunxuan Yu, MDes, 2021

Jianing Zhong, MDes, 

Siyan Zhou, MDes, 2021

Wenxuan Zhou, MDes, 2021

Yuqing Zhou, Foundation + MDes, 2019


Institute of Design faculty

John Cain, Adjunct Professor

Laura Forlano, Associate Professor 

Mark Jones, Visiting Industry Professor

Martin Thaler, Studio Professor

Ruth Schmidt, Associate Professor

Tomoko Ichikawa, Clinical Professor

Tom MacTavish, Research Assistant Professor

Zachary Pino, Studio Instructor of Digital Product

Christopher Rudd, Instructor


IPRO students and faculty

Ayodele Adjayi, BS Civil Engineering, 2020

Aleksandra Bysiek, BS Biology 2021

Bryan Cruz Castillo, ITM, 2020

Myles Emmons, BArch, 2021

Kamil Gorczowski, ME Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 2020

Erez Krengel, BArch, 2021

Thomas McLeish, Adjunct Professor

Peter Menke, BS Computer Science, 2019

Richard Sandoval, BBA, MSF, 2020

Katie Seaver, BArch, 2019



Appears in
Fall - 2019 - Issue 9