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.
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