When classes really stink

Not even the stench of sewage could keep some students away from their work stations at the School of Architecture.

Once again, backed up toilets resurfaced as a familiar problem in the building, which many students in this school claim is too small to accommodate its enrollment.

And, evidently, ill-equipped to digest student waste.

The overflow caused classes in the school to be canceled Thursday. Although students were evacuated from the building around 2:30 p.m., some of them opted to stay, second-year student Nhieu Dang said, because they were afraid they would fall behind on their projects.

“Everybody was evacuated but there are some people who can’t fall behind on their designs,” Dang said.

Waiting there were student design projects, portfolios and, possibly, final grades.

The evacuation wasn’t mandatory, Dang said, and some stuck around to keep working.

“We can still go inside, but the smell is horrendous,” Dang said. “(The smell) is making a lot of people sick, but many of us have to finish our projects due next week.”

Sitting on a bench outside the School of Architecture, Dang talked about his frustrated efforts to obtain feedback from higher authorities concerning the problems affecting his schoolmates, as well as himself.

“I have called the Alumni Center, I have left a message for President Genshaft and the Physical Plant regarding this problem,” Dang, also the School of Architecture student body president, added.

Angela Hendershot, a third-year graduate student at the School of Architecture, agreed with Dang. The building has gone through similar sewage problems in the past few years and is in need of a fix.

“This is the second major (sewage) back up (at this building), although there were small backups where we had to have Portalets for about a week,” Hendershot said.

Michael Halflants, a professor at the school, said that the present sewage problems are just an indication that the number of students exceeds the individual space provided for them.

“Students are aching to get more space,” he said.

Furthermore, Hendershot added that students at the School of Architecture have been lobbying for a new building for a long time.

“The space issue has become quite acute. (The School of Architecture) has too many students for this space,” Hendershot said. “We are on a list to get a building but we need a short term solution for these problems. I feel no one has made our case strongly enough.”

On Sept. 11, Students from the School of Architecture held a protest at various locations throughout the university. At that point, students mainly complained about insufficient studio space.

The State University System mandates that the studio space for students studying architecture be no less than 70 square feet per student. In the case of USF architecture, students are allotted less than 24 square feet studio space for their work.

In an e-mail written in response to the architecture students’ protest in September, university spokesman Michael Reich said the administration would like to afford the school more space, however, it says the state Legislature has not funded USF fairly compared to other Florida universities.

“In this sense, the School of Architecture is a microcosm for the big-picture issue of how funding issues have a direct impact on students,” Reich said in the e-mail.

But Hendershot is more concerned about a short-term problem: The possibility of obtaining an extension to finish her project is slim.

“I don’t get an extension just because there is sewage flowing in the hallway,” she said.

Contact Vanessa Garnica at oraclevanessa@yahoo.com