Rumor Has It…

I am a current student at SCSU, and also a Studio Art major, so every day I have at least one (or two) classes in Earl Hall. Earl Hall is a small building, so the students are right on top of each other, and of course have their friends and/or are part of cliques. Whenever people are living or working in close quarters, conversation happens, and though not always, it tends to lead to gossip and rumor spreading.

Take this recent event, for example, about a student who for whatever reason is refusing to remove their work from the display cases at the building’s front entrance. Aside from the fact that just about everyone knows who this person is, or has at least seen this person’s face a few times, this incident happened a few days ago and already tons of students know about it. So, while I dislike gossip and rumor spreading, it has come as no surprise to me that so many students have said such nasty, vile and inappropriate things about one of the art teachers, Professor Vu.

If you took a class or two with Prof. Vu and you didn’t like the experience, well, you are entitled to that opinion. You are even entitled to being honest, by stating why you didn’t enjoy the class or his teaching methods. No professor will please everyone all the time, that’s just how it goes. But it’s a whole other ball game when students who NEVER have taken a class with him, will tell other students what he is like as a teacher and as a person, based solely on what other people have told them.

I hear something “new” about Prof. Vu almost daily at this point. Most of it is negative, and often times has nothing to do with the class assignments or the course’s atmosphere. The trash talk typically has to do with his sense of humor, his ethnicity, his personality, his sexual orientation and his physical appearance. I don’t care what kind of person you are, or where you are from, but being a student does not absolve you from conducting yourself in a professional manner around your colleagues. You leave your bigotry and bullying at the door.

The most frequently shared opinion about Prof. Vu however, is in response to his constructive criticism. Many students, including those who have not had him as a teacher, label him as “mean”. Based on my experience with Prof. Vu during Art 320, I can say that I am proud of the paintings I created. He points out the things which you can improve, suggests how they can be improved, and remarks on the things which are most successful. This is what it means to be in an art class, because we are not there to learn what we did “wrong”, we are there to grow as artists (art cannot be wrong, anyway). Sure, he could walk into class every day and never give us constructive criticism, but if you don’t know how to improve your art, then, how can you improve it? If my choices are being a stubborn artist who refuses to learn, or an artist who wants to be intelligent about my art, I’m going to go with the later.

Prof. Vu has high expectations for himself, and shows that in his teaching methods. He will not swear at students, behave inappropriately, or demean anyone. He is always on time (unless there are circumstances beyond his control), he rarely cancels class, and he gives all students an equal amount of time during critiques. He also has high expectations for his students: Come to class regularly, don’t come late or leave early, appreciate your art and your classmates’ art, finish your assignments on time (or finish them enough to sit through a critique), and treat everyone with respect. Prof. Vu has a low tolerance for childish behavior, such as inviting your friends to hang out in class with you while you paint/draw, being lazy, not being prepared for class, etc. These are all very normal things that all professors in all subjects should expect from their students, and sadly not all of them do. He treats everyone the same, and somehow, from that evolved the notion that he “plays favorites”. I still can’t wrap my head around that one.

I think the most important thing to note is that Prof. Vu supports who we are as artists and as individuals. I remember him talking to us about our character traits in our art and personalities, and showing such an appreciation for those things. He discouraged us from hiding who we are, but he also respected our space. Have you ever tried to learn in an environment that doesn’t offer the support and motivation to do it? It’s absolutely horrible, and I am glad to say that with Prof. Vu, myself and other students never experienced that.

I am a firm believer in you get what you give, and the reason why I would even write an article like this is because I was given an equal amount of respect from Prof. Vu. There is nothing that I have done that makes me any more special than any other student, and the grade I received (A-) is the grade that I earned from my hard work.

If you would like to learn more about Professor Vu and his art, please check out his website: http://thuanvu.com/

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