Picking Up the Pieces

artforum gray

Addressing structural issues in the College of the Arts

By Samantha Neou  Intern

One hundred degree heat, suffocating fumes and threats of falling ceiling tiles has been the norm for many students in CSULB’s College of the Arts (CoTA). These same students are now prepared to ask why the art buildings have remained unrepaired for so long.

ASI hosted the College of the Arts Forum on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the USU Beach Auditorium. Organized and moderated by ASI CoTA senator Sofia Musma, faculty, staff, and art students voiced concerns about transparency and facility issues in the college.

Faculty, professors, and art students in the college voiced concerns about transparency and facility issues. ASI CoTA senator Sofia Musma organized and moderated the event. 

Guests included Dean of CoTA Cyrus Parker-Jeannette; ASI President Marvin Flores; Arts Ink! President Grant Goldstein; Interim Associate Vice President of Academic Planning Dhushy Sathianation; and the Physical Planning & Facilities Management (PPFM) team’s Associate Vice President David Salazar and Director Tony Malagrino.

It kicked off with questions about funding and the lack of the publicity for the arts. As the evening went on, it led to what everyone was there for. Many students piped up about the unbearable temperatures and lack of windows in FA4 and the threat of falling ceiling tiles. 

One audience member in particular wasn’t having it. 

“I have to ask, are you guys waiting for someone to die?” said attendee Robert Jackson.

“We’re not in the business to kill anyone,” responded Salazar, which gained laughter.

Senior Nikki Vecchio had more to say. The event volunteer runs the unofficial Facebook group CSULB Artists United, where students keep track of damages in classrooms by posting pictures of them. She said the FA4 building on campus hasn’t been renovated since the school opened in 1949. She then mentioned how she felt dismissed when she reached out to the administration about the damaged facilities.

Vecchio said she was told the heating situation couldn’t be addressed until the next heat wave. She claimed she was also told there wasn’t evidence of dangling tiles, and the administration couldn’t comment on the ventilation system in the painting room since there was no painting going on. 

Malagrino took full responsibility on behalf of the PPFM team.

“We didn’t listen well in the past,” said Malagrino. “We didn’t have student perspectives. [Now we have] the opportunity to promote better customer service for students. The goal is to be more transparent.”

CoTA Facilities Coordinator Colleen Ryan, who was not onstage with the administration, assured she would be meeting with PPFM at least once a month to get the issues sorted out as well.

The PPFM team assured that they were doing their best to implement temporary fixes by putting fans in the room and taking care of the tile situation, debating whether or not to just remove them. 

All the guests acknowledged that the temporary fixes are just that, temporary. The funds the school receives are not enough for the reconstruction of the art buildings, so donations would be needed. The panelists added that students would be involved in figuring out solutions until a long-term plan could be written. 

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