Whitney Hall vandalism sparks building safety concern

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Whitney Hall, Chico State’s tallest building, has posed some safety concerns for students. Photo credit: Allisun Coote

 

First-year students recently experienced a safety hazard when a ceiling grid collapsed on the eighth floor in Whitney Hall. Although this event was an act of vandalism, it has raised questions about safety issues with buildings on campus.

The 46-year-old building is one of the largest north of Sacramento, sheltering 512 students.

Students on the eighth floor recorded the incident and posted it on Snapchat. Students that witnessed the incident perceived that the ceiling had collapsed due to a lack of maintenance.

“I looked up and the ceiling was broken, wires were hanging down,” said Dominic Cavalieri, first-year construction management major.

However, Dr. David B. Stephen, director of University Housing and Food Services, said the incident was an act of vandalism.

“The student responsible has advised that the situation was an accident but will be held financially responsible for the damage repair,” he said. “A section of the ceiling grid was pulled down which has since been replaced.”

Several ceiling grids were destroyed and have now been promptly replaced, Stephen said.

In order to keep a safe, clean and well‐maintained living environment for Whitney Hall and other university residential communities afloat, an equipped maintenance group is provided to keep everything under control.

Meisha Hackner, senior liberal studies major, thinks the elevators in the Meriam Library may pose a type of safety concern. Photo credit: Eva Gonzalez
Meisha Hackner, senior liberal studies major, thinks the elevators in the Meriam Library may pose a type of safety concern. Photo credit: Eva Gonzalez

The organization provided by UHFS consists of 11 full-time maintenance staff. UHFS is a self-support enterprise with an annual operating budget of $16.5 million as of 2015. The total amount of operating expenses is $11 million.

However, from 2009 to 2015 the budget for the Building Maintenance Reserve was reduced from $3.2 million to $500,000.

Surrounding the disarray, students have also been questioning the safety of elevators throughout campus. Some students have been stuck in the Butte elevators.

UHFS have a contractor whose focal point is the safety and maintenance of campus elevators. Some students have also been concerned with the Meriam Library elevators.

“One of them I felt shake,” said Meisha Hackner, senior liberal studies major. “They seem a bit old. It pauses like the doors aren’t going to open which is the freakiest thing for me.”

In contrast, there have been students who have not experienced any problems in regards to the elevators.

“I don’t experience feelings of anxiety, even though it inherently might be dangerous,” said Jacob Melvom, sophomore music major.

In case a utility fails, one should contact the Facilities Management and Services at extension 6222 or call 911 for emergencies.

Preventative maintenance can be a crucial component to keeping all equipment safe and functional for students and faculty.

“We try and catch the problems before they occur,” Stephen said.

Eva Gonzalez can be reached at [email protected] or @egonza13 on Twitter.