Department relocations draw criticism from campus

By IAN LACK Reporter

The departments of psychology and sociology, currently located in Scobey Hall, will be temporarily relocated to the basement of Hansen Hall at the end of the semester.

Dennis Papini, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the Hansen Hall basement will serve as a “swing space” for temporary relocation. At this time, the two departments do not have a permanent location after Hansen Hall.

Faculty and students within the two departments have voiced concerns about the relocation in regard to the amount of space and accessibility.

“My new space is going to be about half of the room that I have now, so we’re currently trying to digitize a lot of our materials here,” said Mary Emery, head of the Department of Sociology and Rural Studies. “There are a lot of things to consider still. The basement isn’t handicap accessible, so some students will have to call to make an appointment there.”

Emery has worked in Scobey Hall for six years and noticed poor conditions, such as leaking ceilings and radiators throughout the building. Emery said that, while she was eager to move out of Scobey, she believes the move to Hansen will be challenging.

Cubicles for the faculty and staff will be constructed within the basement space, which Emery said will not likely provide adequate privacy between advisers and students for meetings. Emery said she is also concerned about how students in the two departments will be affected by the move.

“I feel like this makes us seem like we’re somehow not important,” said Nishi Patel, sophomore psychology major. “We’re being moved to the basement of a dorm hall. Students shouldn’t feel like ‘What’s the point of going to a school where people don’t care about our program?’”

The decision to relocate was finalized in a meeting between department heads and the provost last semester after years of concerns about the HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) in Scobey Hall. The beginning of common mold was found in Scobey’s basement in 2011.

Papini said Scobey Hall has had problems with humidity, condensation and mildew among other issues. This is the reason the Department of English was relocated out of Scobey to third and fourth floor of Pugsley, and the basement of Scobey was closed in 2014.

However, Papini said the university has tested the environmental quality of the building without discovering any identifiable toxic agents that would pose health concerns.

“If Dr. Emery’s point is that things aren’t perfect, I would agree,” Papini said. “However, this is the best available space that can be provided and it will be renovated to provide an upgraded state, in comparison to Scobey Hall.”

The relocation is not expected to interfere with student class schedules and will likely begin during finals week, according to Associate Vice President of Facilities and Services Dean Kattelmann.

Additionally, the Department of Economics will be moved from Scobey Hall to a swing space in the DePuy Military Hall until the fall 2018. After that time, renovations on Harding Hall are expected to be completed and the department will be moved there.

Kattelmann said no final decisions have been made for Scobey Hall or the departments that were once housed there. However, Emery and Papini both said Lincoln Hall is being considered as a permanent home for the two departments.

“The university will continue planning the eventual relocation of those two departments into a permanent space,” Papini said.