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Protestors Say Pacific Northwest College of Art Needs Hiring, Fiscal Reforms

A mix of students, staff and artists who teach at other institutions gathered for Tuesday's protest.

A mix of students, staff and artists who teach at other institutions gathered for Tuesday’s protest.

April Baer/OPB

Students and staff at Pacific Northwest College of Art are protesting the school’s hiring and financial practices.

Several dozen people, chanting slogans like”People over profits” marched Tuesday morning. They say they’ll protest daily at PNCA’s 511 Broadway campus until their concerns are addressed.

PNCA’s classes are taught mostly by part-time instructors, working short-term stints, with no benefits. The protesters — including Tabitha Nikolai, a recent graduate and part-time instructor — also say they’re concerned with tuition costs, and the money being spent on the school’s new building. 

“There’s nothing about adopting a nonprofit structure that inoculates that structure from mismanagement,” Nikolai said.

Several instructors at the protest talked about the difficulty of maintaining teaching and creative careers with short-term contracts, no benefits, and limited chances to organize.

PNCA interim president Casey Mills says PNCA does not engage in unethical labor practices. He added he’s optimistic the college can sit down with part-time teachers to talk.

“There are a bunch of different issues,” Mills said about the staff concerns. “It’s not necessarily just scheduling. It’s amounts available, how many classes they can teach, if there’s a path to full-time or not. I’d like to try to figure out if we can have kind of a global talk about all those issues.”

Former President Tom Manley left last winter. The college hopes to hire a replacement by this summer.

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