By Aaron Gillis
A widely-circulated petition claiming that the Viking Union Gallery is set to be decommissioned isn’t entirely factual, and the claim that gallery funding is being reallocated to the Ethnic Student Center is false.
The petition, titled “Save the VU Gallery,” has amassed 625 supporters as of Tuesday night. However, employees at the VU and Associated Students say the petition is incorrect.
“There is lots of misinformation on what is going on. We need to shut down the rumor mill,” said Greg McBride, the assistant director of Viking Union Facilities.
McBride said the gallery will close at the end of the quarter for construction. According to Western’s Frequently Asked Questions about the renovations, the gallery will be closed during construction, but programming for the gallery during this time has yet to be determined.
Jenn Cook, the Associated Students program adviser, stated clearly that there is no plan of decommissioning the gallery.
“There is no decision as to the future of the gallery—and certainly not to fund the new center,” Cook said. “The future of the gallery is currently being discussed among the VU staff, AS student staff and the art department faculty.”
The creators of the petition expressed support for the ESC, but made it seem as if the two were in competition for funding.
McBride wanted to clear up more misinformation on the funding of the gallery.
“The gallery is not in competition for funds with the Ethnic Student Center,” McBride said.
Paul Cocke, director of communications and marketing, agreed with McBride. “The two are not connected in any way,” he said.
Keeping art in the building is top priority, Cook said, although there is no definitive plan on what it may look like.
“There is no desire to remove the program, but there is a possibility that the art program may look differently,” Cook said. “The voices of students have certainly been heard to keep the gallery a gallery, not another form.”
Construction on the gallery is taking place in order to add structural footings for the building and expand current footings, said Cocke.
“New columns will be added to support the 7th floor addition, and new floor and roof structure will be erected above this area,” Cocke said.
Plans of expanding the Ethnic Student Center have been going on since spring of 2014, when the Associated Students allocated $50,000 to start the design process. Scheduled completion of construction is set for June 2019, according to the Western website’s FAQs.
The Western Front will continue to cover this topic.