Administration Mistake Causes Rooms to Suddenly Evacuate. Programs and Students affected.csudhbulletin April 13, 2022 0 COMMENTS
As students, staff, and faculty get evacuated from their cubicles and desks, a sign is put up to prohibit all personnel from entering. Photo by The Bulletin.
By Mary McFadden, Staff Writer Alex Avila, and Lloyd Bravo, Editors
On Monday, April 4, several departments, and programs on the third and fourth floor of the Leo F. Cain Library and a portion of Welch Hall, were abruptly notified to vacate the premises. Without many details, students, faculty and staff were wondering and confused by the abruptness from their dedicated spaces. The services and student organizations that were affected by the evacuation are the Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE), The Bulletin, McNair Scholars, Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Writing Center. According to a campus wide email sent by Assistant Vice President of Administration and Finance Deborah Wallace, the university has known about the need to vacate the spaces since January “The Office of the State Fire Marshal informed the campus at the end of January that there was an issue with no approved drawings on several projects,” read the email.
However, the news came as a shock to everyone on that Monday. The abrupt closure of the floors resulted from an order from the State Fire Marshal. Details of the closure mention “staffing constraints and turnover resulted in our campus missing a key step,” read an email sent to campus. For big projects such as this, a project manager will provide construction plans to the Office of the State Fire Marshal for approval. In California State University, Dominguez Hill’s case, “the turnover in the project manager role led to us not getting the approval on our construction plans from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.”
“I found out that The Bulletin newsroom was closing, like an hour before class started. The university did not notify me or any of the other editors, Dr. Severino (The Bulletin advisor) was the one who told me. I saw the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Caron come in and speak with Severino, but I didn’t think much of it. I overheard Professor Severino say, “I’ll let them know and make an announcement,” said Brenda Verano, Editor-In-Chief, CSUDH’s Bulletin.
Timothy Caron, Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities, made his rounds on April 4 notifying faculty members and staff of the closure. According to Caron he was also notified that same day by Vice Provost, Ken O’Donnell. “I received the email on Monday,” he said.
According to the writing center director, Sherwin Kawahakui Ranchez Sales, the reason for moving out of the third floor was not clear. Sales is afraid that the movement and evacuation of the writing center will disrupt students coming in to take advantage of the center. The writing center had already moved previously to the third floor of the north library and this was their second location. Although students were finally starting to come around, now they have to find a new writing center location again. “We are trying our best to navigate, and we will try to finish strong for the rest of the semester,” Sales said.
The writing center, along with many other student organizations wishes they had been notified earlier. “It was very sudden, packing our things up…Communication would have been nice, I would say the suddenness was jarring,” Sales said. “I just hope for hopeful news. It’s good to be transparent, let folks know, so that we can be prepared and plan accordingly.”
Adaptation was the center’s go-to strategy. “It’s frustrating because students might just have trouble finding this service when it was already a weird space to begin with,” he said “I believe we are still going to do wonderful things given the new space, but I do worry about the students accessing the new space,” explains Sales.
Even though the Writing Center is in a new location, Sales encourages students to reach out for their writing needs.
The Bulletin has reached out to several other departments for their views on the move, and at the time of publication some individuals preferred not to comment on the situation. One of these departments is the Career Center, which was once located in Welch Hall, and has now been relegated to virtual capacity.
CISE, The Center for Innovation in STEM Education, has also been difficult to track down, as they were also a casualty of the fourth-floor closure. CISE has phone and email only. At the time of publication CISE declined to comment on this incident. CISE plays a significant role at the university, “CSUDH has educated and graduated more Math and Science credentialed teachers than any other university in the CSU system,”as their website states.
CSUDH was aware of these impending closures back in January. When asked about why the university did not notify the departments of the potential move, Wallace told the Bulletin that the university has been working with the State Fire Marshal, which had given CSUDH time to “rectify the impetus behind the need to shut down.”
The university is accepting responsibility for missteps in the process of finishing the needs, that if addressed, would not cause the evacuation.
The campus was informed there was an issue with submitted drawings for approval in January. “There was employee turnover and the process was not completed…We weren’t adequately staffed anyway, and we never have been. The campus has not gone through aggressive building projects like we have in the last three years” said Wallace.
According to Wallace the Fire Marshal said that in order to be in accordance with their codes, the third and fourth floor had to vacate as soon as possible. “We wanted to do that to make sure we were in compliance with the Chancellor’s office as well as the directive he gave us,” Wallace said. “Some of those things should have been [addressed] back in 2018, when the state said we were going to get the moves done and the money for those buildings, we missed it.”