Students and administration request Music Building renovations

The ceiling of the outdoor Music Building hallway is covered with brown and black substances. Senior Katie Thacker said, “The outside hallways are not ideal. We get eaten alive by mosquitoes.”

Students said creative juices are not what flow through the Music Building.

Dirty floors, walls and ceilings, and outdated equipment flood the building’s classrooms.

“Unfortunately a lot of buildings are in the same shape as this one because they’ve been basically ignored,” said Music Department Chair David McCullough. “Now we have several facilities that are almost at the brink of serious problems.”

McCullough said in the six years he has been at UNA, the only updating the university has done to the building is repainting the band room and the practice room area, replacing the building’s roof, and replacing the ceiling in the choral room after it fell in.

“It was only done when we had an emergency situation where the leak in the roof became so pronounced that water literally poured into the choral room,” McCullough said.

McCullough said the faculty agrees with student complaints and are probably louder with their own grievances about the building’s quality.

The building’s current condition is impacting the faculty and staff negatively, he said. “If you’re a faculty member or a student, day after day you just live in grime, dirt and dust. That affects you.”

Assistant Vice President for Facilities Administration and Planning Michael Gautney said the university has heard these concerns loud and clear.

“One thing we are doing is cleaning the exterior of the art building, Music Building and Norton Auditorium,” Gautney said. “This will be beneficial to the Music Department in the accreditation process as well.”

The building’s lack of space makes it hard for students and faculty to work effectively, said seniors Evan Curtis and Katie Thacker.

“It would be nice to get a new building,” Thacker said. “The practice rooms are too small and really hot. They look like prison cells.”

Thacker said because the rooms are so small, she is “sure it’s a fire hazard.”

Curtis said he thinks the space issues elicit a new building.

“The department has clearly outgrown the building we’re in now,” he said. “When it was built, it was probably meant to have 150 people at maximum capacity. But now the band is the largest student organization on campus with 230 people in it.”

He said students do not have enough rooms for practicing their music.

“We have faculty members who have offices in the practice rooms because we don’t have enough offices in the building,” he said. “That’s not the fault of the students or the faculty.”

While there are financial issues due to the state giving the university less money, there are other reasons for the building’s shortcomings, McCullough said.

“It’s not entirely a financial issue because one of the service organizations offered to pay to buy all the material for repainting the choral room and were turned down,” said McCullough. “It’s a policy issue.”

He said because the maintenance department is understaffed and could not schedule the work, the university had to turn down the student service organization.

The students volunteered to do the work themselves, but the university had to decline because it would violate its insurance policy, he said.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Carmen Burkhalter met with the music department this past September to discuss long term and short term plans for the building, she said.

“There are some very active plans for major changes in the structure, including a complete renovation of this building as well as construction of adjoining buildings,” McCullough said.

Junior Sean Fritts said he wants to see the building modernized.

“I think the biggest things in need of upgrades are the restrooms and the technology,” Fritts said.

Although the renovation of the building is a long-term plan, short-term plans such as painting rooms, replacing flooring and bringing second-world standards to the restrooms are on the agenda, McCullough said.

He said he and Burkhalter are working to see relief there immediately.

“I want to ensure everyone that we’re well aware of it and we’re moving as quickly as we can,” he said.