Recondition Collins Hall

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Recondition Collins Hall

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This week, Student Life Council (SLC) Vice President Ashley Qamar, GSB ’20, presented a statement titled, “Student Voices for Future Maintenance of a Beloved Space” at this month’s council meeting.

The petition, written in collaboration with United Student Government (USG) and on-campus performance groups Fordham Experimental Theater (FET), the Mimes and Mummers and Theatrical Outreach Program (TOP), laid out issues with Rose Hill’s Collins Hall and urged the administration to consider the groups’ proposed improvements.

The Ram stands with USG, FET, the Mimes and Mummers and TOP in calling for the continued renovations of Collins Hall.

We recognize the value of the space to the Fordham community and hope it can finally come to reflect outwardly the dedication and care that is brought into it by students daily.

Collins is Rose Hill’s hub for everything theatrical. FET, the Mimes and Mummers and TOP frequent the building’s Collins auditorium and Blackbox Theatre.

The space is a much-valued one for those in Fordham’s passionate theater community and for those who support this community. Collins also houses Fordham’s active philosophy department.

The university requires that all undergraduates take two philosophy classes, Philosophy of Human Nature and Philosophical Ethics, as part of its mandatory CORE curriculum.

A central concern with the building is its lack of accessibility. This issue has been a longstanding one, raised by USG in 2013 and again in 2015.

The building’s current inaccessibility inhibits students with physical disabilities from participating in the theatrical communities based there.

Similarly, students with disabilities are prevented from having a convenient and traditional place to meet their philosophy professors for office hours, thereby making it more difficult for them to establish positive relationships with instructors, fully understand challenging course material or reach their highest potential in a class.

After lobbying from USG, the administration solidified plans to make the building fully wheelchair accessible back in April.

The additions of an elevator and a ramp to the main entrance were slated to be completed by the end of 2018.

However, the renovations have been pushed back. An updated schedule has the work starting after this year’s Commencement (which takes place in May), according to Vice President of Facilities Management Marco Valera.

Facilities received funding for the project in July 2018 as per its annual budget cycle, but, due to challenges with the building’s structure, the design was not completed until the fall, according to Valera.

This delay means that members of the Fordham community with disabilities will continue to be disadvantaged.

The start of construction was moved to the summer of this year because demolition for the project will be intrusive and noisy, according to Valera. He affirmed that the project is a priority and that its current budget is $4 million.

We appreciate the commitment Fordham has already made to increased accessibility, and we look forward to these plans finally coming to fruition.

We – in solidarity with USG, FET, the Mimes and Mummers and TOP – encourage the university to continue to dedicate resources to the dilapidated building.

Significant parts of both Collins Auditorium and the Blackbox Theatre are worn and decrepit.

USG’s statement called for the replacement of the main stage curtain, seats and window curtains, the repainting of the theater and the reparations of cracks in the walls/ceilings and of the ropes/rigging system in Collins auditorium.

It also proposed new flooring and improved seating in Blackbox and improved ventilation in both locations. Other issues with the building include its unstable heating and sound systems.

Campus Center Operations and Facilities are already working on repairs to the light system in the Blackbox, according to Assistant Director for Campus Center Operations Stephen Clarke.

Once construction of the elevator is completed, discussion of other potential projects will begin, he noted.

This receptive attitude towards questions of further improvements is a first step in the right direction towards revitalizing one of the oldest buildings on campus.

In its statement, USG acknowledged that maintenance for the auditorium is difficult and costly. We at The Ram recognize these realities as well.

Nonetheless, we hope the university will find a way to revamp a space that desperately needs the upkeep.

Fordham’s talented and dedicated performing groups bring Collins to life. Doing so should not have to feel like resuscitating a corpse.