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Overview

 

It all started 3 years ago, in mid 1999. The student who at this stage wont be named (we will call her Miss P. Was a student in the Wanganui Regional Community Polythecnic Taupo Quay school of fine arts. She was doing their Bachelor of fine arts, a four year Degree course.

She was in her 2nd year. She and some other students had been having problems with an abusive and difficult teacher. I won't go in depth on this issue as it wasn't entirely the tutors fault. After working with heavy metals for many many years and some personal problems his mental state wasn't good. As I am not a qualified Doctor I cannot comment on his problems any further.
 During one of his many abusive sessions he implied to Miss P that he would fail her out of the program. Not wanting this to happen she reluctantly wrote a letter of complaint detailing her problems and requesting the tutor be given some assistance with his students (something the polytech was already obligated to do). She was warned by many students that speaking out against the polytech was not a good thing to do as the rest of the teachers would close ranks around her and they would fail her.

This letter was upheld by the polytech in an odd way. The tutor in question was 'made redundant' after the academic year had finished. The polytech rumour mill started and staff and students alike were allowed to think that Miss P had been the one to have him fired. The reaction to this was a cautious approval that she had done the right thing from some and open hostility from others. One student labelled her a "feminist nazi bitch" and one teacher (Lorraine Webb) refused to speak to her for years.

The time of the letter being lodged until George left was mid 3rd year until the end of her 3rd year.
Then things started to get really bad. Pollys new tutor (Jonna Gibson) was the fired teachers friend and next door neighbour for over 10 years. Her attitude towards Miss P wasn't openly hostile but it wasn't what you would call warm either.  Miss P  was "accidentally" not told of meetings or changes of times and given virtually no help except for the occasional harsh criticism of her work. 
Still, with all of this happening she still completed her 4th year thesis on time and Luckily it was marked by someone who was enough of an outsider at the polytech that it was unbiased and she received an B+.

Then came her mid year assesment. As she had put so much time into her thesis her clay work was a little rushed but she was told all she had to present was a few ideas of what she was going to do for her end of year exhibition and that they didn't need to be fired or finished. She was told wrong. She got an F. The accompying letter told her this was a wake up call and not to worry too much about it as it didnt really count for anything.

Miss P missed the first 2 weeks of the 2nd half of the year as her mother in law was killed in a car accident and then came down with bad suspected food poisoning for a week.

Then begins problems with a merger with another polytechnic.The UCOL fiasco begins and Miss P is asked to march with others  to 'save the school'. She refused to be a sheep saying that UCOL might give the school the kick in the pants it needed and she would support the school when they started to show some commitment to their students. Then things really started getting bad.

Miss P decided to go all out for her Final exhibition. She completely revised what she was going to do and opted instead to build 4x 4ft tall statues out of ceramic clay. Jonna told her that at her skill level it couldnt be done and even if she managed it she would never get it fired in time. Miss P decided that with hard work and perserverance she could achieve it and so she set to work. After many long days and a good few late nights she finally managed to complete the statues. She then fired each of the statues. Each needing to be "babysat" for at least 12 hours while they fired. Miss P then moved the statues into place at her exhibition place and then setup her exhibition and painted her statues.

Click here to view pictures of her work.

2 days before the exhibition was to open she was informed that her work was very poor and only worth a D minus. Because of this she would not be graduating and would not receive her degree. Her assesors were Yonna Gibson (her tutor), Martin Vreede (known around the Polytech to be the removed tutors "fishing buddy") and Claudia Borella.

Miss P spoke to her 4th year advisor (Rita Dyberg) who said "I can't deal with this in any formal or informal capacity" then giggled and quickly left the room.

Miss P appealed the decision in writing within 2 days of being informed of her mark.

During a rehersal for the graduation ceremony The head of the school of fine arts (Suzanne McAuley) "let slip" to the rest of Miss P's fellow students that she would NOT be graduating with them. She then phoned Miss P later the same day to inform her that her inital appeal had failed. Yes, thats right, everyone else knew before Miss P!!!!!!!

Miss P then requested her work be reassesed as per Polytech rules. She wrote a detailed letter explaining why she felt her marks were unfair. Her letter was handed to Johnna Gibson, Martin Vreede and Claudia Borella(Yes, the first 3 again) who said. "we feel this letter does not require individual attention We stand by our judgement".

Miss P then requested that the decesion be checked by the "portfolio review comitee". This comitee was made up by Jonna Gibson, Martin Vreede ,Claudia Borella (yes, them again) Suzanne McAuley,Lorraine Webb and Saly-Jane De Salazar (who is now the acting head of the fine arts school, hmmmm). Miss P requested that she and Des Warahi from the student association be allowed to attend. This request was turned down by Suzanne McAuley.

They decided that Miss P was definately wrong. Her work was just below standard.

Miss P then requested that the whole thing be reassed by the "Polytechnic Arbitration comittee".

The Polytechnic arbitration comittee did admit there were problems but refused to award her degree to her. They did decide to investigate but it will take so long to investigate that when an answer is given the polytechnic will become UCOL and therefore no responsibility will be taken.

 

 

The matters herein only describe problems within the School of fine arts, a part of the Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic and does not represent any other part of the polytechnic.