24 hours of art and design

Story by Breann Schossow

Student senator Allie Shilling looks up at the clock, hoping her general Senate meeting will end by 10 p.m., but it doesn’t look good.

In the end, Shilling had to leave early so that she would have enough time to race across the bridge to Haas Fine Arts Center before the doors are locked, and the equipment she needed for an assignment was off-limits.

“We can’t do it at home,” she said. “We don’t have the materials or the supplies or the machines or the space to do it.”

Shilling, a senior graphic design major, may not have to worry about getting into the building before 10 p.m. in the future, though.

After more than 16 years of attempts to open the building for additional hours, 24-hour access to the Arts and Design wing of Haas may be implemented within the next year, but a date is still unknown, sources say.

Parties involved with the project met with Facilities Planning last week to discuss alternative options that Facilities developed in response to the most recent proposal submitted by the Student Senate Information Technology Director Matt Sias this summer.

Main concerns in the project include costs, security and safety to the building and students, said Campus Planner Ric Gonzales.

“We’re always concerned about security,” he said, citing Haas specifically as the art and design department isn’t the only department in the building.

Gonzales said that while the project may appear to be moving slowly, it’s important that it is being done right.

Sias said the costs associated with keeping a building open for additional, or, in this case, 24 hours includes paying for infrastructure upgrades, such as the installation of card swipe equipment, punch locks and surveillance cameras.

Once installed, Sias said he thinks maintenance costs would be relatively low.

While everything is still fairly up in the air, Art and Design department chair Christos Theo is still looking forward to the possibility of 24-hour access. Theo, who has been at the university since 1993, said that additional hours have been on on-and-off-again discussion topic, but this is the closest the project has come to implementation.

“We’re just happy that it’s moving along,” he said. “The light’s getting a little brighter at the end of the tunnel.”

Shilling said she was shocked to find out about the amount of time that this project has been in the works. However, she attributes one source of the current progress to a certain group.

“I think this is the first time students have taken the initiative to do it,” she said. Shilling initially encountered the project last year as a student senator. While safety hazards were one issue encountered in the past, she added that it was difficult to combine old parts of the process with the new plan.

Shilling said that most faculty she has worked with on the project are surprised that the building doesn’t already offer 24-hour access.

UW-Eau Claire is one of few schools in the System that does not offer 24-hour access in a situation like this, Theo said.

“It’s understandable for security reasons,” he said.

If implemented, 24-hour access will only be available in the Art and Design wing, but not in the Music or Theatre Arts area, Sias said. In addition, only certain rooms will be made available to students. To get feedback about this project from majors in Haas, Sias sent a survey to students this month.

At this point, Sias said they would like to avoid additional course fees for Art and Design majors. A question on the survey addressed student’s opinions on the subject, with a majority being in favor of a course fee.

“I think people willing to say they’d put money behind it is a strong indicator that (shows) ‘yes, we really do want this,'” he said. “The reason I wanted it in there was just to see how seriously people wanted it (24-hour access).”

As of now, a source or sources of funding are not yet concrete.

Student Perspective: Why this is good

Most courses that art and design majors take are studio courses, said senior graphic design major Allie Shilling.

On average, she said that most majors take two to three studio course per semester.
Most professors that Shilling has had require students to spend five hours outside of each studio class, in addition to
class time. That’s at least ten hours per class, per week, she added.

While other majors can go to the library for extended hours, that’s not always the case for art and design majors. At one point, she said, laughing, she painted in the library because the building was closed.

“Everyone was giving me funny looks, but I did it,” she said.

Senior illustration major Luke Benson agreed with Shilling.

“I really want it to happen,” he said. “Every art student I’ve talked to seems to want it to happen.”

Benson added that students who work don’t always make it to Haas during it’s current hours.

“I understand the reasons they have not to, but I think the good outweighs the bad,” he said.