Regarding the planned closure of Western Washington University's VU Gallery, we, the undersigned, wish to voice our concern and dismay over the lack of communication regarding this very disturbing news.
The VU Gallery provides a much-needed student-run exhibition space on a campus that has remarkably few such opportunities. The Gallery's location in the Viking Union is vital for student interactions and conversation. VU Gallery exhibitions and programming provide free cultural enrichment at Western and promote a wider visibility for the arts on campus. Moreover, the VU Gallery provides outreach and learning opportunities, in addition to showcasing the talents of CFPA and, of course, Art and Art History students as well as alumni and professional artists.
Another crucial enriching component is the professional experience that the VU Director and gallery assistant/monitor positions provide, which in the past have been filled by Western students selected from in and outside the CFPA. We consider the Associated Students' commitment to funding the arts on campus an opportunity to support wider University common goals on issues such as student diversity and cross-cultural exchanges.
We are aware of the great and immediate need for a new space for the Ethnic Student Center and we are emphatically committed to social justice, diversity and equity. However, the VU Gallery is a space already dedicated to many of these issues. It has regularly featured artists whose work addresses concerns central to Western's diverse student population and our community's growing alarm over changes in immigration policies.
We would like to stress that in no way do we wish to subvert plans to expand the Center. Supporting both the arts and inclusivity on WWU's campus is not a zero-sum game.
We are dismayed at the lack of transparency in the decision to close the VU Gallery, and ask for the opportunity to participate in discussions about its future as a matter of good faith in our shared governance model at WWU.