Andre Hall in need of renovation, not a priority

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Even with confirmation from the Physical Plant that there is nothing wrong with the water, there is still a warning sign for Andre’s water fountain. 

Staff Writer

Visitors to St. Edward’s University’s new Munday Library see a modern building, with clean lines and airy, open interior spaces. On the second floor, when they gaze out the east-facing window, they see a different structure, one whose architectural charms elude many of the faculty and staff who work there every day: Andre Hall.

“I’ll do anything to keep parents from coming to Andre,” said Bill Kennedy, a professor of Photo Communications whose office is in the ARTS Building.

A faculty member since 1981, Kennedy said he makes sure to keep prospective students and their parents away from Andre Hall. Built as a dormitory in 1955, when St. Edward’s was an all-male university, the building has been home to the dean and staff of St. Edward’s School of Humanities since 2002. Faculty members also have offices in Andre, as does Hilltop Views.

Stories from multiple faculty members create a web of reasons why they are not happy with the state of Andre. The building boom on campus has left them feeling unappreciated.

Father Louis Brusatti, associate professor of Religious and Theological Studies, has worked in Andre Hall for 12 consecutive years. Until last year, when he left the dean’s post, his office was located on the first floor. One day in 2008, after arriving at work, Brusatti noticed “a very bad smell” on the first floor.

Physical Plant, which is in charge of maintaining the campus grounds, was called to dispose of what was causing the smell and could not find it. Later, the grounds people were called and a 4-foot crawlspace was found under the building. A dead raccoon was discovered with a large bag of Oreo cookies.

“I didn’t know if the raccoon had died because of the cookies, or couldn’t get out because of the cookies,” Brusatti said.

In early 2008, the pipes burst on Andre’s first floor.

“One section would get fixed and another section would break,” Brusatti said.

A major flood occurred on the second floor, and because of the tilt of the building, the water soaked through down to the first floor.

“We came in one morning there were fans and there was water everywhere. They let us come in to our offices and pick things up off the floor,” said Natacha Martin, assistant to the dean.

According to Physical Plant, the carpets were cleaned using a carpet extractor, and all the pipes were replaced after the second flooding.

However, since the flooding, Dr. Tere Varner, department chair & assistant professor of Communication, says the carpets have not been cleaned.

“Just imagine the stains, the pollen, the dirt,” Varner said.

But it is not just the dirt that faculty is worried about.

“I don’t know how old this carpet is, but it never really gets cleaned,” Martin said. “And I think it is pretty common knowledge that there is asbestos in the floor.”

Faculty agrees that the smell of Andre Hall mostly comes from the carpets.

“It’s funky. Some days it’s awful,” Lynn Rudloff, the associate to the Dean of Humanities, said.

The faculty is right; the real issue is the floor.

Physical Plant has stated that the original flooring of the building was tile, and at some point before 1999 carpet was glued down over the floor tile below it. 

According to Physical Plant, recent testing proved that there is a trace of asbestos in the floor that is currently being encapsulated by the carpet. If the carpet were to be replaced now, it would mean state notification, relocation, proper containment, industrial hygienist and licensed contractors. This would be very disruptive, according to Michael Peterson, associate vice president of Physical Plant.

“It would be more cost effective to wait until the renovation to replace the carpet,” said Peterson.

Other concerns include privacy, most notably, the thin walls separating the men’s and women’s bathrooms and between offices.

“The Pink Stinker” is what Beth Eakman, Professor of English Writing and Rhetoric, refers to the first floor single bathroom that lacks ventilation.

Assistant to the Dean of Humanities, Kim Livingston’s office is located across the hall from “The Pink Stinker.”

“I will leave my office if someone goes in there,” Livingston said.

Drew Loewe, assistant professor of English Writing & Rhetoric, who now resides in Sorin Hall, used to be on the second floor right across the hall from the bathrooms.

“The sound proofing was nonexistent,” Loewe said. “I got a lot of chances to work on my poker face while students were meeting with me.”

On the first floor of the building the ‘70s avocado green water fountain has a sign warning “Don’t Drink This Water!” followed by a clip art skull and crossbones. According to Peterson, there is nothing wrong with the water.

On Monday, after Hilltop Views started inquiring about the condition of Andre Hall, Physical Plant cleaned the first floor carpet. They plan on cleaning the other two floors this week.

Next on the 10-year-plan list of renovations? The Alumni Gym and the Chapel.

Andre Hall still waits to be renovated.