Nova Scotia

NSCAD students, faculty rally outside school calling for board changes

The rally was organized by a group called Friends of NSCAD. The group is calling on the board of governors to step down and to reinstate Mac Namara. 

Group upset by recent firing of Dr. Aoife Mac Namara, the former president of the university

A protest outside the NSCAD Granville Street campus drew more than 60 people Thursday. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

More than 60 people rallied Thursday afternoon on Granville Street in Halifax to send a message of discontent to NSCAD University's governors. 

The group of students and faculty are upset by the recent firing of Dr. Aoife Mac Namara, the former president of the university, who was abruptly let go by the board of governors in June. 

"I think it has brought to students' attention that there is definitely a disconnect between the students as the largest group of stakeholders, and the board of governors," said Brody Weaver, a member of the group Friends of NSCAD.

Call for board to step down

"Especially around issues of addressing systemic racism within the university, Aoife Mac Namara had a very concrete plan to address systemic racism at NSCAD and was the first president of the school to openly acknowledge that these issues are present."

The rally was organized by Friends of NSCAD. The group is calling on the board of governors to step down and to reinstate Mac Namara. 

Mac Namara began her term in Aug. 2019 and many questions continue to surround her dismissal. If the board does not resign voluntarily, Weaver said the group is calling on the provincial government to step in and mediate the situation. 

Sadie Richards, a library technician at NSCAD, said Mac Namara gained the support of students and faculty by listening to those with the least power, particularly students of colour.   

Dr. Aoife Mac Namara began her term as NSCAD president in August 2019. (The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design)

"This is about tuition being too high for people to pay, this is about not being supported by having faculty of colour and Indigenous faculty, but also in the board of governors," she said.

"We need these people to actually support the initiatives to make institutional change, not just pay lip service to change." 

The rally organizers are calling for the 22-member board of governors to make at least one-third of its members Black, Indigenous, or people of colour (BIPOC). It's also in favour of having the university create more supports for BIPOC students and faculty, including tuition waivers for Black Canadian and Indigenous students. 

The board of governors has called Mac Namara's dismissal a "personnel matter" on which it will not comment further. 

CBC requested comment from the NSCAD board on the protest but did not receive a response Thursday afternoon. 

MORE TOP STORIES

With files from Vernon Ramesar

now