Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Enrollment Falls by 80 at Quake-Damaged CalArts


Fewer than one in 10 students at earthquake-battered CalArts have withdrawn from the school, despite earlier concerns that $12 million to $15 million in campus damage would mean a drop in the quality of education.

According to preliminary figures Friday--the final day that students could withdraw and receive a full refund of their $6,925 semester tuition--about 80 of the 964 students enrolled at the college have left.

In an average year, about 7% of the enrolled students withdraw, said Anita Bonnell, CalArts director of public affairs.


Only a slightly higher amount of students appear to have left this semester, but some believe the 6.8-magnitude Northridge earthquake had a stronger effect on them than is now documented.

CalArts President Steven Lavine suggested 30 to 40 students might have abandoned their studies without officially withdrawing.

“There are students that clearly just fled,” Lavine said. “I think we’ll find that out all semester. I think we’ll find out there are students who paid their fees and registered, so we count them as enrolled (but who left)).”

Hammered in the first week of the new semester by the Jan. 17 quake, CalArts twice extended the deadline for students to withdraw and get their money back. With limited access to CalArts’ main building, courses have continued in an array of satellite classrooms.

“We are fairly confident that through borrowed and rented facilities we could provide a serious education,” Lavine said. “We wanted to give the students enough time to see that.”

Art, film, critical studies and music composition classes are being held at a former Lockheed site in Valencia. Voice, speech and Tai Chi martial arts instruction are proceeding within the Valencia Industrial Center.


Theater classes have spread to facilities from the Vista Village shopping center to Magic Mountain. Dance courses are held at the Santa Clarita YMCA and a Pasadena studio.

“There’s no question that it’s different,” Lavine said. “We’ve gone from a campus where everything is at one site to where it’s all over the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Lavine estimated the quake will cost the college up to $2 million for satellite classrooms and in lost tuition.

Despite the logistics nightmare, the majority of students apparently believe they can learn a lot at the school. An earlier petition that called for the college to refund up to one-third of the tuition because students would not get the education they had initially signed up to receive appears to have died.

“To me, I think education is where you want it to be,” said Wendell Seat, a 22-year-old CalArts graduate student. “You learn what you want to learn.”

Quake damage has delayed shooting dates for Seat’s film project--scheduled to have begun Jan. 17--and postponed editing classes. But Seat said fewer students has meant greater access to instructors and the equipment that is operating.


In only his first year at the college, Seat said he has no plans to leave.

“I just don’t like to quit, I guess.”