Maintenance issues spook student learning

by David Alvarado

Lights flicker on-and-off in Storm Hall, disrupting classes.  | antonio zaragoza, photo editor
Lights flicker on-and-off in Storm Hall, disrupting classes. | antonio zaragoza, photo editor

Storm Hall has long been a topic of interest among San Diego State students: Not because of its beautiful architecture or quiet classrooms, but because of the maintenance problems affecting student learning for years.

The problems consist of water leaks and lights flickering on-and-off in the middle of class.

The flickering lights disrupt class lectures and affect student concentration. Lights go off in stairwells and in hallways, turning Storm Hall into a labyrinth of long and dark passages.

SDSU Manager of Electrical Services Al Martin said fixing the lighting problems in Storm Hall has been in the works for a couple of weeks.

He attributes the electrical problems to the old motion sensors installed in the building in the late 1980s. Lights rely on the outdated sensors to automatically turn on or off.

Professor of political science Edward Heck said he has noticed the lighting problems in Storm Hall, but it has not interfered with his class.

Beginning last year, the university’s Work Control Center compiled a list of registered complaints and recently issued a report to the electrical services office. There were 27 lighting problems detected, Martin said.

The Work Control Center is the point of contact between the campus community and Physical Plant. According to the university’s website, the Physical Plant oversees more than 2.7 million square feet of floor space across the university. The campus uses approximately 54 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Martin said problems are usually fixed the same day they are reported, but the lighting issues in Storm Hall were not immediately addressed because of plans to renovate both Storm and Nasatir Halls.

The renovations will be financed by the sale of bonds scheduled to be sold later this year.

Storm Hall is not the only building with problems on campus. The Professional Studies and Fine Arts building has recently experienced water leaks.

About a month ago, the breakdown of a water cooler caused a water leak in the west end of the building. Flooding water reached the PSFA dean’s office, and was cleaned up a week ago.

Leaks have reached the upper levels of the building as well.

Theatre, television and film professor Martha Lauzen teaches a class on the fourth floor of PSFA. She recently complained to the building’s office staff that her class had a leak that was close to the podium where she instructs.

Building maintenance issues have affected students such as political science junior Jorge Gomez, who said there may be more going on than just electrical problems.

“I’ve heard Storm Hall is haunted,” he said.