By IVY BECKENHOLDT
Students in performing arts departments are advocating that their learning environment has been hindered due to the state of the Harmon Fine Arts Building. A large portion of Sloan Wheeldon’s platform for student senate this year was focused on the “dilapidated state of FAC.”
“FAC was built only in 1972 but is already completely falling apart,” Wheeldon said in her campaign speech. “The basement leaks everytime it rains, the carpet is filled with mildew and holes and the hallways don’t have central air. In warm summer afternoons the practice rooms get so hot I’ve known people who practice shirtless.”
As to why Wheeldon felt it necessary to campaign on this issue, she stated that “those of us who spend the majority of our time in FAC know these problems really intimately, but I don’t believe that this is something that people who don’t spend time there feel passionate about or really know a lot about.”
Junior Theatre Design and Technology major Katie Catellier shares Wheeldon’s concerns.
“So often, I feel like people forget that visual and performing arts students need appropriate facilities in the same way that science kids need safe and updated laboratories,” Catellier said. “We put so much energy into our work, but it is hard to have a good learning environment or a beautiful finished product when the facilities don’t fit our needs and often hinder us.”
Regarding the effect of the building on students, Catellier shared that the state of an often used classroom in FAC, room 36, has interrupted work. According to Catellier, when the ceiling began to leak in room 36 the water gathered on desks and soaked the carpet. Then, students collected trashcans and buckets to hold the liquid.
“It is distracting as a student to have water drip on my head or hearing water drip into a bucket in the middle of an important lecture,” Catellier said. “I don’t know how many times students and or faculty have talked about the state of the building and just shrugged and said ‘well, thats FAC!’”
Regarding the leaks in FAC and the holes in the ceiling in room 36, Fine Arts Coordinator Dani Peters stated in an email that “the university does plan to fix it, but it will happen over the summer.”
While plans for repair are in place, Catellier shared that she felt the timeline and transparency regarding these changes is not ideal. According to Catellier, the ceiling in room 36 began leaking at the beginning of the fall semester.
“We asked professors repeatedly when the leaks were to be fixed, but we never got a cohesive answer, because they did not know themselves,” Catellier said. “Eventually, the leaking stopped on its own after winter break. We as students were not told when the building’s many issues would be fixed, if at all.”
For Catellier, the state of FAC is important due to the personal connection she and other students have to the building.
“Like many other arts students, I spend between 8-16 hours a day in FAC,” Catellier said. “It has become a second home to me since my entire life revolves around shows and classes in that building. It is sad to see the building slowly deteriorate. It is hard to imagine a world in which FAC doesn’t have leaks or broken equipment or rodents scurrying around. I personally think that FAC should be repaired and then even just a fresh coat of paint or new carpeting would liven up the space to encourage current and future students to study, practice and perform. “