The presence of asbestos–a known carcinogen–and other structural flaws, including a leaking roof, in the Art Building has been confirmed by Dana Twedell, Associate Vice-President for Administration and Finance and employee of Facilities Operations and Planning for Sonoma State.
Sonoma State will be replacing the Art Department’s leaking roof this summer for $800,000.
“During our construction phase, we’ll be working with our Contractor and our Environmental Health & Safety department to assure that all asbestos materials, as related to this project, are handled as outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards” Twedell said.
As to how long Facility Management has been aware of these issues, Twedell had no comment. The truth behind other rumors regarding the Photography studio’s defective dark room and broken equipment are still unknown.
Students and faculty alike expressed concern when questioned about the potential of classrooms having asbestos and other hazardous issues without them knowing. Some, however, didn’t seem surprised by these possibilities.
Third year art student Cassidy Phillips, in fact, has a theory of her own that explains why the Art Department seems so neglected.
“The school itself holds higher standards for every other department,” Phillips said, waving her hands and thumping her fist on the table in exasperation, “business, economics.. We get no recognition, no funds... we’re just supposed to deal with it.”
Pausing to gesture, Phillips continued, “That printer hasn’t been working for a really long time. When we need stuff fixed it’s not fixed. Our priorities need to be in different places.”
On top of all that, according to Phillips, there’s a lot of people who don’t even know where the art building is. This is pretty understandable–considering that the Art Building’s rusty lockers, retro redwood exterior and sculpture adorned courtyard have sat largely untouched, tucked away in mossy, quiet corner behind International Hall since it’s construction in the late 70s.
“What the school cares about are areas that are being toured. They show you certain parts, but they don’t come over here,” Phillips concluded.
Regarding asbestos specifically, senior Psychology major Kiara Moore, a tour guide for Sonoma State, said that she only knew about the confirmed existence of it in Stevenson, where most of her classes are.
“As students who are paying tuition, it’s important that we know what’s happening with our university. It’s super important for us to get to the bottom of this be aware of what’s happening around us,” said Moore.
Pertaining to leaks in dark room that is used for photography, junior Art major Diane Fritz said, “If there’s a possibility that that room has an issue that’s going to keep me from that class it’s gonna be a huge impact on me and my ability to move forward in the program.”
With regards to the rumored existence of asbestos in the tile floors, Fritz said, “I’ve heard reference to it. I haven’t heard that there’s been testing here that gives me solid evidence. It’s good to be really upfront about it and not to pretend.”