Hopefully, Gavilan College Will Spend the Rest of the $100 Million More Wisely

‘Unfortunately, the lighting on Sycamore Lane is better suited
to deterring crime on a prison yard.’
March 2007 marks three years since voters passed Measure E, a $100 million bond for facilities improvements and expansion of educational opportunities at Gavilan College. Gavilan College main campus, built 35 years ago, was, and is badly in need of improvements and renovations. Anybody who sits in a sweltering classroom or uses the decaying and sometimes disgusting restrooms knows that.

Also, what we have learned about how adults learn has changed, and our classrooms need to reflect those changes. They need to allow for collaborative learning, be multi-media presentation capable, Internet accessible, well lit, comfortable and well ventilated. As a Gavilan alumnus and instructor, I supported the passage of Measure E in 2004, and I still do.

Three years later much has begun but little visible work has been finished. There are elaborate plans and timelines on Gavilan’s Measure E website. A look at the calendar shows there were three months worth of weekly meetings just concerning Gavilan’s WWII era boiler. I think it has been replaced. Since January there have been no meetings posted about anything at all.

I see contractors working and I know progress has been made in the area of underground utilities and services, but the bathroom across from my office continues to reek and the toilets routinely flood (once pumping raw sewage into my office). A recent classroom remodel (Business120) was little more than throwing up a sheetrock wall cutting off the room from outside light and ventilation to accommodate the new assessment center.

Some students in that renovated room have been forced to leave nauseated by the heat when the HVAC system fails. And fail it does. And this is winter. The VP for instruction visited the empty room and called it one of the nicest rooms on campus. Praise indeed. Too bad she never comes when it’s actually in use and hot.

Amazingly, the business building where I teach is considered one of the better buildings. One can hardly imagine that it is worse elsewhere, but it is.

Something that has been completed is the new lighting on Sycamore Lane, the road featured in just about every publication Gavilan produces, especially when Gavilan is describing its “park like” atmosphere. You should see Sycamore Lane. It is lined with enormous grey light poles every few feet. Lighting is an important part of Gavilan’s safety plan and I support the use of lighting to deter criminal activity. Unfortunately, the lighting on Sycamore Lane is better suited to deterring crime on a prison yard and is a cheap and ugly affront to the once beautiful lane. By the way, if a crime is going to occur, it won’t be on Sycamore Lane, the most busy thoroughfare on campus. It will probably be in a parking lot or in some overgrown and dark recess.

When I asked President Steve Kinsella and Vice President Joseph Keeler why these lights were installed I received no answer.

The Measure E website contains no information about campus aesthetics and designs other than to refer to a “binder” or “bound copy”. It contains no information about where to find information, when it can be viewed, or if input is being accepted.

As Gavilan moves into the visible phases of its renovation we should put the responsibility for the aesthetic qualities of the renovation in the hands of people who have some understanding of design and aesthetics. Gavilan is a beautiful place and $100 million should insure that it remains so within the constraints of sound budgeting and decision making. Let’s hope the rest of the campus turns out better than BU 120 and Sycamore Lane.

Guest columnist Steve Smith is a Gavilan College instructor. Anyone interested in writing a guest

column may contact Editor Mark Derry at [email protected]

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