With a slew of letters to the university president and the student body government, the EWU student newspaper is protesting being relocated to the basement of Hargreaves Hall in future reconstruction, saying it is inaccessible, remote and disrespectful to a student-run entity.
President Rudolfo Arevalo said Monday that he will discuss the location of The Easterner with his senior staff and the project’s architect, perhaps looking into other temporary and permanent options for the weekly paper, such as Isle Hall.
“The Easterner is a completley student-run, student-operated facility. For the adminstration to decide without our input that we are going to be relocated to the basement is disrespectful to the students, to the idea of the freedom of the press and just unacceptable in general,” said The Easterner’s editor-in-chief Eric SchwartzThe basement of Hargreaves is currently a low-lit, low-ceiling maze of water heaters, storage, and janitor’s closets. (It was chosen for The Easterner’s Crazy Campus Places column last year).
Next spring, Hargreaves Hall goes under construction and the basement will be remodeled to janitorial storage, mechanical rooms, several storage, mechanical rooms, several unused classrooms and office space for the paper featuring 20 cubicles, three private offices and one private conference room. To access the proposed Easterner office, one must take a stairwell from the first floor directly down to the paper’s main door or an elevator down, followed by a 50-foot walk.
The administration took the Easterner on a tour of the basement last year, to ask them if they’d like to be moved there. The staff said no.
“It [The Easterner office] needs to be visible, it needs to be the kind of facility that warrants a total student-operated facility,” said journalism professor Steve Blewett. “And it was just dismissed. The concerns were just dismissed, concerns of students and faculty.”
ArÃ©valo held that campus programs should be located according to how many students they’ll draw.
The current construction plans will move The Easterner from the first floor to the basement, leaving the university’s gift processing center, the faculty honors program, and three new classrooms on the first floor.
The second floor will feature more new classrooms, a special events conference room, the student Honors program, and offices for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
“My intent is that programs and services that require more student and faculty foot traffic are in the primary areas and this was one of the recommendations of the design team,” said ArÃ©valo. “I made that decision because I saw other programs, the honors program and the faculty honors programs, as being programs that needed easier access by larger groups of students to their services.”
The student body government (ASEWU) has not yet said if they will or will not support the Easterner’s protest, but they are deciding this Tuesday what their stance will be. When Schwartz spoke last Tuesday at an AS meeting, flanked by four of his paper colleagues, one AS member offered to take a tour of the basement and student body president Alicia Kinne asked what they could do to help.
“For no student service should you ever have to really hunt them down to be able to find them,” said Kinne “I think, if anything, we need to push for the accessibility to quality student services.” On Dec. 11, the architects will present the plans for the building to the “stakeholders” in the move, to ask for feedback.
When asked if it was fair to ask for feedback when most students have gone home for Christmas, project manager Jim Moeller suggested putting the plans up on a Web-site for people to comment on.