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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Speech Arts building remains closed until Monday as repairs continue, but ‘Seminar’ will go on as planned

Generators+were+brought+to+power+a+portion+of+the+Speed+Arts+building.+Courtesy+of+Julie+Logan+from+90.7++KFSR.
Generators were brought to power a portion of the Speed Arts building. Courtesy of Julie Logan from 90.7 KFSR.
In this video, a Fresno State Focus reporter was able to record the basement of the Speech Arts building during the incident. Courtesy of Fresno State Focus.

Speech Arts will remain closed until Monday, Dec. 4, after a damaged hot water line led to the evacuation and closure of the building on Wednesday.

The Fresno State Department of Theatre and Dance is suffering the consequences of the event.

“Seminar,” the upcoming theater production scheduled to hold its opening night in the John Wright Theatre on Friday, Dec. 1, appears to still be on. Professors with classes in the building were being told late Thursday night by the College of Arts and Humanities dean’s office that the building will remain closed but that the theater performances will continue, along with operations for KSFR, the campus radio station.

“We are hoping no performances will be canceled. If the building re-opens on Friday, we will be ready for opening night,” said Bradley Myers, director of “Seminar.” “This show is exceptional in terms of the script, the performances and the designs.”

Generators are currently powering a portion of the building, in order for productions to continue.

“To ensure that the theatre performances and other critical operations were not impacted, generators were brought in to restore power until the fuses can be replaced,” said Provost, Xuanning Fu.

The incident, associated with the Central Plant Utility Replacement project, flooded the basement of the Speech Arts building, causing a fuse to blow out, shutting down the power for the entire building.

“Facilities is currently repairing the damage, and I await the messages from Facilities updating us on when the work will be done; They say that it will be open on Monday. Our dean’s office has helped facilitate CAH faculty finding classrooms if they wish to teach in person during the repairs,” said Honora Chapman, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

It is unclear how much damage was done to the basement, which houses costumes and other related material for the theater department.

“The hot water pipe was not struck, a break occurred due to a pipe flange that came loose. The area has dried out and assessment of any damage to stored items is still be assessed,” said Debbie Adishian-Astone, chief financial officer and vice president for administration.

The contractor will be held financially responsible for any damages, according to a university official.

“The CUPR contractor is invoiced for all costs associated with the damages, repair, temporary power accommodations, etc.,” Adishian-Astone said.

Rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday for “Seminar” were held in Lab School Room 101 without props, costumes or sets, according to Miguel A. Gastelum, communications specialist and box office director of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

“We rehearsed this evening in a different venue, and the actors are extremely on top of their game,” Myers said.

As the damages remain unconfirmed, the department is unaware of the cost and who will be responsible to pay for it.

“At this time we don’t know who will take care of the cost of the damages until we see the extent of the damages. We’ll be working with our dean, Nora Chapman, on that issue once we have a handle on the scope of the problem,” Gastelum told The Collegian.

Workers are focusing on getting the building back up and running. The hope was to power up remaining areas of the building by the end of the day on Thursday, Nov. 30.

“We were also able to procure the necessary fuses from vendors in Portland and Denver and they will arrive tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 1),” Medina said.

On Wednesday night, police officers were observed patrolling the building.

“Since there was no power, our Police officers were on fire watch to ensure the safety of the facility,” Adishian-Astone told The Collegian.

The building will remain closed through the weekend because Facilities Management needs to ensure all the systems are functioning properly, including the fire alarms and heating.

Fresno State faculty and students campuswide were not notified of the situation, with the exception of Speech Arts faculty and staff. On Thursday afternoon, a number of students could be seen approaching the main Speech Arts door across from the Resnick Student Union and trying to get in.

“We have shared any information we have received from Facilities with the CAH listservs for faculty and staff, so that they can send information to their departmental listservs for faculty and students. Speech Arts is a centrally allocated building that serves other colleges, too,” Chapman said.

Campuswide messaging is the responsibility of University Communications.

“Campus-wide communications are coordinated in partnership with the division and/or department wishing to send a communication. In this instance, Facilities Management worked with Academic Affairs and other campus partners to distribute the communication to all impacted academic departments and administrative offices. When impacts are isolated to one building, a campus-wide notification is often not warranted,” Adishian-Astone said.

With finals around the corner, if students have a project they are unable to complete due to equipment being unavailable, they may ask for an extension. However, it is ultimately up to the professor.

“Professors control how extensions may or may not be given in particular classes, and I hope they show grace to their students with this unexpected closure of Speech Arts,” Chapman told The Collegian.

The building closure also impacted a number of programs in the Media, Communications and Journalism department. The Collegian office remains closed. The department’s equipment checkout office remains inaccessible. Fresno State Focus, the campus TV newscast, had to move on Wednesday from the TV studio to a room in the RSU.

For the time being, MCJ students can still check out equipment as needed from a temporary location in McKee Fisk.

“The department of MCJ has stated that it is doing checkouts as needed. MCJ posted instructions on its website and Cyrel (Mallory, the equipment manager) is stationed in the McKee Fisk building in Room 240. When students make reservations, he has the equipment there for them to check out,” Chapman said.

Students can reserve equipment at the MCJ Checkout website.

The reopening of Speech Arts scheduled for Dec. 4 is contingent on whether or not further complications arise over the weekend.

This story was updated on Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m. with more information. 

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