Update on November 28, 2007 Incident at ROM

    TORONTO, Dec. 7 /CNW/ - For more than 130 years, OCAD has been recognized
far and wide as one of the world's preeminent schools for art and design. OCAD
students, faculty and alumni are frequently and regularly recognized and
awarded in Canada and abroad for their art and design talents, their research
into contemporary issues and their understanding of contemporary and
historical practice. OCAD artists and designers have a proud history of
creating art and design that is socially engaged and relevant to its time. As
a community, we are capable of learning from and weathering the most
challenging situations.
    OCAD strives to create a university where all members of our community
conduct themselves with honesty, integrity and concern for others. The
university is dedicated to ensuring an environment conducive to effective
teaching, learning and artistic creativity. Our policies emphasize these
    The Vice-President Academic has completed an investigation regarding any
possible involvement of OCAD faculty with respect to the ROM incident. The
results of this investigation have been reported to the President and the
Chair of the Board of Governors, and a decision has been made. The two faculty
members who were temporarily suspended, with pay, have been reinstated and
exonerated of any complicity in the incident at the ROM. The faculty members
confirmed that they do not condone the events that took place at the ROM on
November 28th. This incident at the ROM was not part of any assignment or
project in the video course. The faculty members have returned to work in
order to allow them to support OCAD students in their final critiques and
preparation for exams.
    The OCAD student has been charged with certain offences under the
Criminal Code. The case is currently before the courts. This limits our
ability to comment on the specifics of the case. OCAD's Code of Student
Conduct expresses the expectation that students reflect "the highest standards
of integrity in non-academic as well as academic behavior". The Code prohibits
actions that "knowingly cause any other person to fear bodily harm". In this
regard, the student has been suspended in accordance with the Code of Student
    "We live in complex and demanding times where art and design can and
should play a role in the larger world. We believe that our faculty and 3,600
students understand the boundaries of artistic responsibility, and our
community has been deeply affected by this incident, as have the Canadian
Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the
public.", stated President Sara Diamond.
    "Here are some of the issues that OCAD perceives to be at stake: the
boundaries between a theoretical concept and enactment of that concept,
between a video dramatization and a realistic physical act, between art works
in public spaces that enlighten and empower, and those that cross an
unacceptable ethical boundary into actions that instill fear among the public.
At the same time, contemporary life in Canada and abroad plays out against
images and realities of violence. That the very value of contemporary art
practice is currently being dismissed as self-serving and narcissistic as well
as dangerous by some members of the public and the media gives us cause for
concern," added the President.
    OCAD faculty, staff and students have long supported HIV/AIDS education
and research, as well as services for those suffering from HIV/AIDS, including
activities undertaken jointly with CANFAR.
    Ongoing conversations within our community and our future initiatives to
support HIV/AIDS education and research will bring even greater focus to
OCAD's ongoing teachings and research about ethics, social responsibility,
social engagement in art and design and strategies for public art and media.
The knowledge that we glean from these conversations can be shared with a
larger set of communities who are also struggling with issues that need the
efforts of artists and designers and with understanding as part of our
contemporary visual culture.

For further information:

For further information: Susan Lilholt, Acting Director, Marketing &
Communications, Ontario College of Art & Design, T: (416) 977-6000 x 220, M:
(416) 562-4936, E: slilholt@ocad.ca

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