Glasgow School of Art graduate to launch discrimination claim against institution
A GLASGOW School of Art graduate is considering legal action against the world-renowned institution over disability discrimination.
Sculptor Penny Anderson, who has multiple sclerosis, is about to file a civil suit because she believes it’s the only way to bring attention to the issues and doesn’t want other students to disabled live what she has.
She started her second master’s degree in September 2019 because she knew she would have to adapt the way she worked as her condition was gradually getting worse and now walks with the help of a stick.
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She says that by the time she was due to arrive at the art school’s Stow campus, where her studio would be based for the masters course, she had been in touch with student support and wanted to visit the facility to prepare for what could go wrong. mobility.
GSA Studios was based at the Stow campus
Ms Anderson, an MLitt graduate in sculpture, said: ‘With Stow, everyone moved in in a hurry and we were fighting for the studios. It was the tutor on another course who recognized that I would need to be near the door and that was the only positive thing that was recognized in someone reaching out and doing something.
“I had a list of things I would need to help myself, but when I got to the studio I was just abandoned. There was nowhere to find food, there was no food. didn’t even have a vending machine.The walk to Stow is a ridiculous hill and a trip from there to the amphitheater would take me 30 minutes, but for anyone else it would take five minutes.
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Ms Anderson was based at the School of Fine Art studios and workshops in Shamrock Street, but also missed what is known as the Friday event, which is a talk at the Glasgow Film Theater in Rose Street.
“I could never go there because I could never come back that far to Stow,” she added. “I have to make choices on the day where I can spend my energy, so I missed that until I was told I could take a taxi, but even then there was no communication. ”
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While Ms. Anderson has now graduated and left campus, she is still determined to highlight issues to help students who may follow in her footsteps.
She added: ‘I don’t think student support is used to dealing with people with reduced mobility, but I managed the first term even though in the first week I thought I couldn’t do it. that, I’m going to be completely on my own. We went into lockdown, but no one asked me if I was okay because we had to move our work. I had to leave a lot of my stuff in the studio. No one contacted me from March to August 2020 to see how I was doing as a person with a disability.
“There was a disability support worker who was very good, but the one I worked with was made redundant during the lockdown.
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Ms. Anderson feels that everything she did was in spite of art school.
“I was appalled at the art school and felt they had no idea. Whilst I was entitled to some fees it was an amount I had to pay myself and when I saw the condition of the Stow building I thought I was not paying this as I couldn’t move around the building. The student register was also going up three flights of stairs with a broken elevator. I filed a complaint which was upheld and they waived the residual charges.
Ms Anderson returned for five weeks for her degree and felt nothing had changed for students with mobility issues.
She added: ‘I had made suggestions for handrails at the Reid Gallery as it is on a steep slope, with automatic doors, but it seemed nothing had changed which is why I want to take action. I don’t want anyone else going through this. The campus should be ready for people with reduced mobility, but it is not.”
The Glasgow School of Art has been hit by two fires in four years and a report into the second fire in 2018 ruled earlier this year that the cause may never be known.
Last October it was announced that rebuilding the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building as a “faithful recovery” of the one destroyed by fire in 2018 was the preferred option for its future.
A Glasgow School of Art spokesperson said: “We take accessibility very seriously. Penny’s complaint was filed in 2019, since then a series of steps have been taken to improve accessibility on the GSA campus as part of our commitment to continuous improvement.