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Students without homes. Faculty without jobs. These are the faces behind the UArts closure.

Kristen A. Graham, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

The sudden collapse of University of the Arts in the last week and a half shook Philadelphia, resulting in the resignation of the college president, three lawsuits with more possibly to come, city hearings, and a days-long student sit-in on the college steps.

But beyond the headlines and the public outcry are the quiet, continuing emergencies, the personal and professional fallout of the loss of an institution that traces its roots back 150 years, and employed about 700 people in the city.

Here are a few of those stories.

‘We don’t even know if we have a place to live’

Anisha Sampson, 23, has lived on her own for six years, since her mother died when Sampson was 17. By this spring, she was working 40 hours a week and attending University of the Arts full time as an acting major. Then, her living situation became untenable.

Sampson appealed directly to now former university president Kerry Walk, whom Sampson met walking down the street a few months ago, and was granted emergency housing on campus, guaranteed at least through Aug. 10. She had hoped to save money to get her own place.


When the closure news came May 31, Sampson panicked: Would she be kicked out? Her brother, who had also worked for University of the Arts, had planned to help her pay for stable housing, but he was now out of a job and unable to help. Answers were in short supply, even as helpful staff tried to assist amid their own losses.

“They told me, ‘I don’t even know if you can stay on campus. We may have to move you somewhere else,’” Sampson said. “We don’t even know if we have a place to live.’”

Robin Barthelemy is in a similar boat: The illustration major and screenwriting minor — who has no family to stay with — moved into emergency housing last month, after losing her job and struggling to find another one.

Barthelemy and Sampson may have a lead on a place to live in West Philadelphia after they are forced to leave their UArts emergency housing, but that’s subject to an interview, and they have to prove enrollment in another school. Neither is sure where they’ll land.


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