‘Arts building’ controversy

Abigail Duchow, Staff Reporter

A survey on CWU Ideas has sparked controversy among students and professors. The survey, created by a choral music education student named Andrew Gompf, pitches for a new arts complex. The survey says the building would be beneficial for students of every arts program, including theatre, art and design, and music. However, the survey option was deemed by some students as misleading and not beneficial for the visual arts.

The pitch for the new arts complex states the new art building would include additional performance space, rehearsal space, practice rooms, classrooms and offices. The survey creator mentioned with Hertz Hall being demolished for the new health sciences building, a new arts building would not only benefit music students, but all art students. 

The title of the survey option, “Arts Complex,” led some to believe the new building would accommodate the needs of the visual arts programs. The programs include art, studio art and graphic design. While the comments on the option consisted of many music students in favor of the building, there were a few visual arts students who were not so thrilled.  One of those students is Sloane Miller, a student studying graphic design. Graphic design classes are held in Randall Hall, the current art building. 

“A majority of art students have many complaints about our current building, and all we talk about is when we’re ever getting a new building,” Miller said. 

Kathleen Anderson, a graphic design student, left a comment on the survey voicing her concerns. She said the way the survey is written makes it seem like a new building will benefit all students in the arts, but it would not benefit those in visual arts. 

Teagan Kimbro

“As an art student, I urge my fellow art students to go vote for the Randall-Michaelsen Hall Renovations project,” Anderson wrote. “As this one will not benefit the visual arts whatsoever and will deplete us of our already scarce resources, given our building has had approximately zero updates since it was built in 1969.”

CWU approved a 10-year construction and maintenance plan in 2016 that includes Randall-Michaelsen renovations. The renovations listed include putting in new heating and ventilation systems and making changes to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plan for Randall-Michaelsen is budgeted at $7.9 million.

Art and design students are advocating for those who care about the visual arts programs to vote for the Randall-Michaelsen renovation survey on CWU Ideas. Comments on the survey express their concern about the conditions of Randall-Michaelsen. 

One comment left by Gregg Schlanger states the Randall-Michaelsen survey option is the only one that will benefit art and design students. 

Desirae Knight, an art student, left a comment on the Randall-Michaelsen option explaining why she thinks Randall Hall could use some renovations. Knight said one of the biggest issues with Randall is the heating and cooling systems. 

“I’m probably not the only one who has been bundled up in heavy winter coats and sweaters in one class, then go to another room and find that it’s nearly a sauna,” Knight wrote. “In the summer, it gets ridiculously hot in the studios, with no real way to cool down or get good airflow through the building. Some studios get very humid, and others are ridiculously dry.”

Knight also described how the building collects dust and doesn’t have proper ventilation for the amount of clay and plaster the art students use. She described the lack of air circulation and ventilation as being hazardous. She said the students try their best to keep the dust down by keeping areas clean, but it just isn’t enough.

Knight also had many other suggestions for renovations in Randall. She said there are broken seats in lecture halls that need replaced and the lecture halls themselves are too small for class demand. She also explains that art students would benefit from hands-free faucets and soap dispensers. She describes how the walls that display student artwork do not have very good lighting, and could use more space. 

“In general, the space for hanging student work outside of the galleries could use better lighting, and better walls for hanging work, which would promote more displays of student work, and show off what the department is accomplishing,” Knight wrote.

While the “Arts Complex” option says a new building will benefit those in all arts programs, people are concerned it will only benefit those in music. The survey mostly talks about students in the music program, so art and design students have turned to asking for Randall-Michaelsen to be renovated instead of relying on the new building for the accommodations they need. As time goes on, it will be revealed whether a new building will really benefit art and design students or if they will only be helped through renovations.