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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

ASUCD units in EcoHub face numerous problems

SAHAR FOROUZANFAR / AGGIE

Issues include rats, cockroaches, lack of adequate space

When six ASUCD units moved to the EcoHub three years ago, the unit directors were told that the move was only temporary. However, it now seems that the units, which include Whole Earth Festival (WEF), Experimental College, Aggie Reuse, Campus Center for the Environment (CCE) and Project Compost, will remain there indefinitely.

“The move was originally temporary, but it now appears to not be temporary,” said Amelia Evard, a fourth-year sociology and Spanish major and one of the WEF unit directors. “I don’t know of any plans to move any of us [the units] elsewhere.”

The units have dealt with numerous issues since moving into the EcoHub.

According to Nicole Garcia, a third-year communication major and the unit director for the Aggie Reuse Store, the units’ close proximity has been beneficial in some ways, but the units all need more space than what the EcoHub is currently providing.

It’s been a great experience for us to be able to work closely with the other unit directors, as we’ve been able to forge mutually beneficial relationships with them over time,” Garcia said via email. “But as a drawback, we are all sharing the same space; and as the units grow, particularly ours, we often need more and more space. For us, that’s space we’re using from CCE and WEF, being that the space given to us by ASUCD is incredibly lacking. Our unit in particular holds a variety of events throughout the year, ranging from small-scale to large-scale […] Additionally, as our team approaches sixty to seventy people for next year, the space concerns become even more alarming — that’s more than sixty people in our unit alone, using this space day in and day out.”

Evard and Jess Tierney, a fourth-year environmental science and management major and one of the WEF directors, said that the WEF unit has experienced many difficulties since moving into the building, including a lack of sufficient space.

“On the one hand, some units don’t have an office space, so we are obviously really happy that we do have the EcoHub and that we do have a space where our staff can meet but on the other hand we just got told this year that we’ve been in this room for three years with this furniture and all of a sudden we found out [from Student Affairs] that it’s a fire hazard,” Evard said. “[…] We know that as a unit we are fairly lucky with how much space we have, especially given that there’s a lot of things we need to store for the festival, but I think it also feels like we don’t have, us and I think the other EcoHub units, don’t have adequate space.”

While Student Affairs has told Evard and Tierney that it will provide them with the new furniture, Evard noted that the building itself is still a safety hazard, as it is made out of wood but has no sprinklers.

According to Evard and Tierney, there are also rats inside the building. When the building’s couches were moved outside for WEF, there were rat droppings inside one of them, and many of the outlets in the building no longer work because rats have chewed the wires. Tierney said that one afternoon, she saw a rat in the WEF office.

Currently, there are several rat traps throughout the building. Above one rat trap there is a sign that states “finger-shattering mouse trap nearby.”

Evard said that she and Tierney have emailed ASUCD Business Manager Janice Corbett, who has in turn sent requests to facilities, but the rat issue has remained about the same.

Evard said that there are also cockroaches in the building, and that earlier this year there was a gas leak in the front room, which Evard believes is now fixed.

Two former WEF directors, who wish to remain anonymous, said that during their time as directors they also saw numerous safety issues. In addition to the rats and cockroaches, they stated that there was a light structure hanging by a rope and nails on the ceilings as well as a lack of hot water in the kitchen.

Evard, Tierney and Garcia all wish that ASUCD made more of an effort to recognize the problems the units are dealing with regarding the EcoHub.

“I don’t really know if senators have even been in our office or know what it looks like,” Evard said. “And I just think that if you’re a senator you really should work more closely with the units […] I think it becomes difficult to make people understand the issues we are dealing with in our office when they don’t even necessarily know where the EcoHub is.”

Evard said that both of WEF’s current adopted senators, Jose Menses and Yajaira Ramirez Sigala, have been to the EcoHub, and that Menses has attended a WEF staff meeting. Menses and Ramirez Sigala did not respond to The Aggie’s request for comment.

“I think that ASUCD is trying but they’re not really […] they’re just moving people around to different places,” Tierney said. “You can solve one problem, but then you create a whole host of new problems.”

Garcia echoed similar sentiments.

We’ve mentioned it to ASUCD in the past, specifically several times with the various executive offices (I’ve been with the Store, working with ASUCD for 3 years now, seeing many exec officials in and out of office),” Garcia said via email. “Executive’s short answer is that although there are processes in place to handle these issues, such as URSAC (Unit Relocation and Space Allocation Committee), there are other units who have priority above us when it comes to space concerns.”

Additionally, Garcia said she has brought up these issues to ASUCD senators.

“We’ve also brought it up to Senate several times, especially last year, and they did not have any suggestions or ideas for solutions,” Garcia said via email.

 

Written by: Alyssa Vandenberg — campus@theaggie.org

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