Is SJSU Unsafe?

September 15, 2006

Drilling at Clark Hall

Contractor work habits threatening SJSU students, faculty and staff
A contractor is drilling into concrete while students walk into Clark Hall on September 14, 2006. The students are walking around ladders, around the contractor’s workman, over power cords and through clouds of concrete dust.


Today’s lesson is electricity

September 13, 2006

Electricians in Clark Hall

Camera Phone Post: Rush, rush to get Academic Success Center Ready

Electricians do electrical work above and right next to students studying in Clark Hall today.


September 11, 2006

Sue, Ken and I at the WTC

Is the Academic Success Center safe?

September 9, 2006

Drilling in Clark
Photo taken August 24, 2006

Computer Lab Opening Soon
The Academic Success Center (ASC), located on the first floor of Clark Hall at San Jose State University, is soon opening to the campus community. In his Welcome 2006 address University President Kassing referenced the center:

So you can argue that innovation is a defining characteristic of this region. Of the top 20 cities nationally with the most patents, nine are within 20 minutes of this campus. Being located in this kind of environment has both influenced us and inspired us at our university. King Library, the Campus Village, our new wireless campus, and the new Academic Success Center with its incubator classroom, which, by the way, will open in mid-September, are all examples of this inspiration and influence.

Health and safety concerns in face of Tuesday lab opening
The computer lab (part of ASC on the first floor of Clark Hall) is being rushed to open on Tuesday. While it seems to me there is a huge rush to open the lab, the Help Desk (where I am assigned) and the Peer Mentoring center are already open in the ASC. They have been open there since the first day of the fall semester. Students, faculty and staff are using the area despite the fact construction is ongoing. The facility is not complete and, in my opinion, may not be safe.

The ASC is inside a big glass fishbowl just as you enter Clark Hall (the old Clark Library) from the south. The two main entrances to the facility are huge, thick, double doors made of glass and are very heavy. In the event of a fire, if they are locked, these exits would not open from the inside to allow emergency escape. This is how tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 occurred. An alternative emergency escape exit from the ASC is from a small door on the south side of the facility to the left of the main entry (as you walk into the facility.) This small door does open from inside even if it is locked and leads to the main building entrance and exit from the first floor of Clark Hall. Funneling a lot of people through a small door is how tragedies like The Station Nightclub Fire in Rhode Island of 2003 occurred. If the big glass doors are closed, but are unlocked, they are still big, heavy and cumbersome to open in a hurry. In short, if there are people in the ASC the big doors have to be open. The big doors are supposed to be signed, “These Doors Must Remain Open During Business Hours.” As of Friday, September 9, this has not happened.

Another gap in signage that has not yet been fixed is that the small door on the south side of the first floor of Clark Hall has not been signed with an exit sign. This door is around a corner and not readily visible from the lab or help desk areas. Such a sign needs to not only be in place, it needs to be visible from inside of the facility. The need for this sign has been noted by the university health and safety authority but it has not been implemented despite the facility being in use. Hopefully, all of this will be fixed before the Tuesday September 12 planned opening of the lab.

There is another way out of ASC
There is a door in the back, on the north side, that leads to a hallway where the incubator classrooms are. This door is signed. If a person goes to this hallway, and goes to the left, there is a back exit from the facility. This is an exit that had been blocked at times by contractors, the good news is this problem appears to have been resolved.

The next issue is training
As the facility has been hurried to completion I think more than a few corners have been cut in the last minute rush. In my opinion one of these corners may be training for emergency evacuation of the facility. To my knowledge emergency evacuation training has not been given to the staff, nor planned for staff soon to be hired, who will be taking responsibility for the facility as well as the students, faculty and staff already using the facility and those that will be using the new computer lab. This is a busy place and a noisy facility. I also hope the alarm system has been tested and can be heard from every corner and room no matter how loud the place gets.

Full disclosure
I am a union steward, a past member of the campus-wide health and safety committee, member of my union’s statewide communications committee, a 20 year university staff employee, a part-time lecturer, a graduate of SJSU (BA – Journalism and MA – Education) and a California tax payer.

I am excited as everybody else about the new facility. I think the lab on the first floor of Clark will be a wonderful asset furthering the mission of the university. With its 30 advanced work stations it is going to be a great thing for the campus community to be able to access this new lab. The desire to to open this as soon as possible is understandable. I just want to be sure we are doing this as safely as possible as well.

This blog post was made on my own time, using my own equipment and posted on my own Internet connection. No university resources were used.

Fire hazard cleaned up!

September 7, 2006

Door made accessible

Later that same day
After I sent the previous photo (see below) to the human resources health and safety rep, Mark Loftus, and CSUEU union chief steward Dennis Fox, they sent John Skyberg, Associate Director of Facilities Managment, to check out the situation. I received this reply from Fox, “I talked to Mark and he says it has been cleaned up and that the dumpster will be moved.”

Previously I had verbally complained to Loftus about blocked exits, but this is the most action and fastest action I have seen take place to fix a hazard in Clark.

Camera phones are a great way to document unsafe conditions and get them fixed.

(Andrew Venegas Photo)

Fire Hazard at SJSU

September 7, 2006

Camera Phone Post: Trash in front of fire exit

SJSU Clark Hall fire exit. Despite the fact that student, faculty and staff use is ongoing in the former Clark Library, construction is still going on. There has been issues with the contractors blocking exits. In my opinion this is a potential fire hazard.