Eddy Interview with Andrea Andalis

Andrea Andalis

Interview by Halle Risko with Andrea Andalis, Junior, Graphic Design, Fall 2021

What personal experience or journey brought you into your current role at or connected with SUNY New Paltz? 

Andrea went to the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, for graphic design. They used to have a great program but in sophomore year they ended the art and music program, so she transferred to SUNY New Paltz. When transferring, Andrea said that New Paltz was the only other school she would want to go to. She wanted to come because of our competitive and highly rated Graphic Design program. The location was also a big factor. She liked that the campus was 45 minutes away from her hometown, Port Gervis, and she’s close to her friends from Saint Rose that live in Kingston.  

What issues or challenges are you confronted with? 

The challenges that she faced were ones that are expected when transferring; a scramble to find a place to live and the anxiety of making new friends when it seems like everyone has already found their group. When Andrea was looking for a place to live, she unfortunately had to see a lot of bad places to finally find a good one. She told me that a lot of the houses she visited were either way overpriced, dirty, had roommates that she didn’t think she would get along with, and in one case, visited a “room” that was just a bed in the corner of the living room. Andrea ended up finding a place at the last minute after a random room had opened. She still hasn’t moved in, despite it being the first week of classes, but she’s hoping that she’ll get along and hopefully become good friends with her roommates.  

Andrea is also being faced with the challenge of making new friends. She told me that she thought it was scary to be coming in as a junior and trying to find a new group of friends, which is understandable. To her, and many other transfers, it seems like everyone has their set friend groups, and no one is taking applications for new members. It can be awkward trying to meet new people, especially when your off campus, because there’s no open doors in the dorms that you can just wander into. One thing that has helped her with this struggle is the support of a friend from home who attends SUNY New Paltz. The two have been hanging out recently, and Andrea feels like it has helped her feel more comfortable.  

Why do these challenges exist? 

These challenges exist for many reasons. The most important reason being the fact that she is a transfer student and now must readjust to a new environment. 

What challenges exist in the larger system? 

Andrea’s challenges were brought upon due to the challenges in the larger system. Her reason for transferring, as we can recall, is because her school’s art program was cut. Everyone in the program was outraged, because they chose art to be cut first over other programs. Andrea said that Saint Rose’s decision makes it seem like art is less important than other areas of study and is not seen as something of value. She pointed out that institutions like this never cut sports but are always quick to do away with the arts. It stems from a societal view that the arts are not necessary when money gets tight, and she believes that we need more importance placed on art.  

What are the blockages? 

The main blockage is the lack of money that the fine arts program brings in. Things like athletics bring in money, so financially, it doesn’t make sense to get rid of them. In fact, Saint Rose is adding more sports and adding a nursing program in hopes of bringing in more money, all while cutting the arts programs. They are looking for stability programs not the arts.  

What are your most important sources of success and change? 

At New Paltz, Andrea’s most important source for success and change is the emphasis of and respect for fine and digital arts here at New Paltz. She’s aware that this is not an art school but told me that she feels as though it operates similarly to one since there’s so much respect for art here. In this environment, Andrea feels valued to be a graphic design student.  

What would a better (university or community) system look like for you? 

Andrea said that an emphasis on art and the importance of it would be her vision for a better university, which is what she has found here so far. She also believes that validation for everyone’s career choice is key to having a university that can operate peacefully and respectfully. 

POST INTERVIEW with Halle Risko, a junior graphic design student. 

What was most surprising or unexpected? 

The most surprising thing about my interview with Andrea was the reason for her transfer to New Paltz. As a fellow graphic design student, I couldn’t imagine having to transfer schools because my program had been cut first due to a lack of funding.  

What touched me? 

I thought that it was touching how she spoke of the friends she’s going to be leaving behind. I can tell that she will really miss them, and that their time together was much too short. 

What connected with me personally? 

The location of Andrea’s school is very personal to me, since I am from Albany! I live about 15 minutes away from Saint Rose, so when Andrea and I were talking about the school, it was easy for me to understand and picture what she was saying. 

If the social field (or the living system) of the visited organization or community were a living being, what would it say to us? 

I think that the community we visited was art students, and since the social field is an environment where competition takes place between groups and individuals, I think that they would say to know your value even when others are selling you short. As an art student it’s easy to feel as though you won’t succeed artistically, or financially, but it’s important to remember that there are spaces where you will be valued and uplifted. Seeking out and creating a space for yourself in these environments is key to setting yourself up for success. 

What is the generative force that allows this social field to develop and thrive?  

The generative force that allows this social field to develop and thrive is an interest in art, the individual, and the commodity of art. So long as you have these three things, there will always be students of art, and there will always be the competition that our economic system ensures.  

What limiting factors prevent this field from developing further? 

One limitation to the development and expansion of this field is the cost. For many, college is not financially feasible, even with loans. It’s upsetting because there are most likely thousands of artistic geniuses out there, but because of economic burdens, they won’t receive the training they need in order to use their talents to support themselves.  

What ideas does this experience spark for possible Eddy initiatives you may want to pursue? After speaking with Andrea, I’ve become more interested in learning about other art students’ experiences on campuses that are not SUNY New Paltz. Here, I feel valued, and have never feared that my program may be cut, but apparently that is the case at other universities. I’d be interested in learning more about the experiences of art students who are in programs at liberal arts colleges, rather than art schools. 

Interviewed Fall 2021

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