‘Beyond shameful:’ students, community rally against move from Star Store by UMass arts programs

Aug 31, 2023

“Protect the Star Store, protect the students” chanted current UMass students, alumni, professors and community members at a Save the Star Store rally outside the building in downtown New Bedford on Aug. 31.

The demonstrators held signs that said “Beyond shameful” referring to the anticipated move to the empty Bed Bath and Beyond store in the Dartmouth Towne Center plaza

“The blitzkrieg timeline of this move favored poor decision-making,” said Stacy Savage, a sculpture professor at UMass Dartmouth. “It will impact this region for decades to come.” 

A notice sent to UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts students on Aug. 28 by the dean indicates that the move to Towne Center will be temporary. The notice comes two weeks after the school announced it would leave the Star Store building due to a lack of state funding for the facility.

The decision prompted outcry from students and alumni, who were confused about where all of the work would go. 

“We went [to Bed Bath and Beyond] today and there is no way we can fit our facilities in there or our equipment,” said Fallon Navarro, a third-year ceramics MFA student. “We are no longer going to have walls, there are just barriers of shelving. So, definitely not what any of us signed up for.”

Some see the loss as more than a disruption to the faculty, but also as an interpersonal loss for the artists with each other and to the community.

Moving the program will “disenfranchise the fine arts masters students because they are removed from the culture and society,” said Megan Thomas, UMass Dartmouth fine arts program class of ‘98. “A big part of what they do is cohesiveness, working together, and working off and embellishing other curriculum, so that will be lost.”

Classes at UMass Dartmouth begin Wednesday, Sept. 6, and move-in day for students living on campus is Sunday, Sept. 3.