Art students get 24-hour access to Haas

Story by Carolyn Tiry

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Art and design students at UW-Eau Claire are now able to access the Haas Fine Arts Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week thanks to a new security system.

The system consists of a new card reader installed at the south entrance of the Art and Design wing of Haas, in addition to already existing punch-code locks on workshop and computer lab doors. Students simply have to swipe their Blugold card, and they will have access to the building.

Junior graphic design major Stacy Hutchinson said that while she hasn’t needed to use the facilities after hours yet this semester, she is excited to have the option available.

“It’ll just be nice to be able to come when I have time and not just during the mandatory building hours,” she said. “It’ll be more convenient to work on projects, especially if you’re a night owl.”

Christos Theo, chair of the department of art and design, said the faculty has wanted to put a system in place for several years but that it kept getting stuck in the planning process. He said it was students who really gave it the final push.

“I give (them) a lot of credit for getting momentum rolling on this thing,” Theo said. “They did a great job, including getting the Student Senate involved. It was really cool.”

Theo added that many universities have had a similar system in place for a while, and it was an excellent feeling to be able to give the same opportunity to Eau Claire’s art students.

According to a presentation given to Student Senate Monday night, some music faculty and students expressed concern about the safety of and wear and tear on music equipment and practice rooms. That issue was addressed by keeping the double doors between the two departments locked after regular building hours.

In addition, the card reader will keep track of the identities of all students who swipe their card, which adds an extra level of accountability, Theo said.

“Once you swipe your card, you have an understanding of the responsibilities (that come with it),” he said.

After-hours access is not available to music and theater arts students. Robert Knight, dean of undergraduate studies and former chair of the music department, said the faculty made the decision because it felt students had ample opportunity and space to practice during the day.

Hutchinson said she and other art students have occasionally had to rush projects in order to finish before the building closed. The 24-hour lab in Old Library is an option, but it doesn’t have the right printers or programs, she said.

“It’s just kind of a hassle to go … to the lab and not have everything at your disposal,” she said. “So it’s definitely that ‘finally’ feeling that we can get in here when we need to.”

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