As news of Santa Fe University of Arts and Design’s upcoming closure rocks the campus on St. Michael’s Drive, students left in lurch are frustrated with education company Laureate.“I am quite infuriated at the lack of communication and the lack of follow-up questions,” film school junior Raven Two Feathers says. “It’s been stressful trying to juggle this with classes and finals.” The school, which had already stalled enrollment last month, announced Wednesday that it would close in May 2018. With final exams mere weeks away, sophomore film student Paris Mancini echoes these concerns. “They’ve been giving the students and faculty the runaround,” she says. “I chose specifically a very small school—I know what it feels like in an extremely competitive place where teachers don’t care too much about teaching or students; we all thought if we signed up for a four-year college, we’d finish.”Mancini and Two Feathers both say they aren’t thrilled at the concept or transferring to other institutions, either, but they’re also American students with at least some decent options. Though SFUAD officials have announced they’ve worked out formal transfer arrangements with other schools in the area, for Syrian student Rand Hadid, a freshman who attends the university on a full scholarship, the news is bleak.“They just literally ruined my future,” she says. “If my scholarship is not transferred, I’m going to lose my visa. I already lost my residency where I live in the Middle East, and when I ask about scholarships they’re like, ‘We don’t know, your scholarship is just for this school.’” Hadid says she delayed plans to return to the Middle East while waiting for official word from the school. Now that the closure is certain, she doesn’t know what to do next. “If my visa right now gets cancelled, I don’t think I’m going to get another visa with Trump,” she tells SFR. “What does ‘sorry’ give me? Where do I go? This has been a huge slap to my face.” Min Kim, a student from South Korea, also feels abandoned by the school. “I have to leave America immediately,” he says. “I don’t like it, but I don’t really have a choice. I don’t really like the fact that I might have to change my degree.”Junior David Church will still earn his film degree, but relates his sympathies to students who won’t be able to complete their degrees by next May. “Although I’ll be graduating next year, I feel so sorry for everyone who is already here who won’t be graduating,” Church says. “Wherever everyone ends up, students and staff included, I can only wish them the best of luck.”Two Feathers has founded a Facebook group, Saving SFUAD, for students to exchange ideas. Mancini says that administration-run meetings have thus far taken place with “select students.” Both agree that actual, useful information has trickled out too slowly and with poor timing. For now, students seem to have adopted a holding pattern while they work out next steps. The school has arranged transfer exchanges with UNM, Columbia College in Hollywood and Chicago, and Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver. Currently, 682 students are enrolled at SFUAD with roughly 100 graduating this year. 170 students are identified as being at the 36-hour threshold that would allow them to graduate next spring. The university says that’s not a hard-and-fast limit and that they’ll work with students who are close to see if they can graduate.
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