For Philosophy Department Chairperson Thomas Ricketts, Logan Hall is more than just a place for his office. "The third floor is shabby, but it's home," he said last week. But Ricketts is one of many who will be forced to trade his office in the center of campus for a temporary one blocks from College Green as a result of large-scale renovations across campus. The planned relocation of Smith, Logan and College hall offices to the periphery of campus brings to light the serious lack of alternate academic space in the center of campus. Philosphy Chair Ricketts fears that relocating his department to 34th and Market streets during Logan's renovations will disrupt more than just day-to-day operations. He said last week that the move to the outskirts of campus may discourage undergraduates from mingling with their professors and graduate students. "It will be difficult to fully establish elsewhere the same kind of faculty-student interaction that we now have," he said. But, "you can't have interaction in Logan Hall if it's falling apart," he added. Besides the Philosophy Department, renovations of Logan and College halls is leading to the move of the central administration, the College of General Studies, the Woman's Studies Department and many other offices far from the main campus. Plans to demolish Smith Hall -- if a historical commission permits the razing -- is forcing the relocation of the History and Sociology of Science department and some Fine Arts offices which are located in the building. H & SS's move to the Science Center on 34th and Market streets has sparked objections from professors and students who call the area unsafe. But Provost Michael Aiken said last week that the lack of academic "swing space" in the area from 34th to 38th streets between Spruce and Market makes shifting the departments to the Science Center the best option. "There simply is no space available," Aiken said. "We have a very limited definition of what is appropriate space for academic use." He added that the department could return to the center of campus, possibly relocating to Houston Hall once the proposed Revlon Center is built. Aiken commissioned a study early this fall to determine whether Houston Hall could be converted into academic space. The Facilities Department found that it is feasible, but administrators have stressed that no set plans have been laid for the 100-year-old facility. In addition, the provost said that relocating the H & SS department to Houston Hall would depend on whether all the student service offices were shifted into the campus center complex. Vice President for Facilities Arthur Gravina said last week that the administration is waiting for architects to complete a "master plan" detailing the campus center area before planning the future of Houston Hall. The architects' report is due out in January. Gravina added that the provost's recommendation would not complicate planning for Houston Hall because the H & SS department would not take up much space in the facility. "It's not preempting planning for Houston Hall, but since the [H & SS] department's not that big, it could fit in there," Gravina said. "Nothing's cast in stone. We were looking at what was available." "Planning Houston Hall now does a disservice to the planning of the campus center," he added. But Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said last week that she and others on the committee to diversify Locust Walk feel they have been ignored in the discussion to relocate the H & SS department. She said that by "promising" Houston Hall to the H & SS department, the administration is making decisions that restrict the freedom of the committee. "I think what we were upset about was that President Hackney promised Houston Hall as an option for us to look at," she said. "Then the provost promises Houston Hall to H & SS and didn't notify the committee."Comments powered by Disqus
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