In the event of an earthquake, the best response for those stationed in Tolman Hall would be to “duck, cover and hold,” UC Berkeley officials urged earlier today.
Officials held a town hall meeting to discuss the building’s continued vulnerability to earthquakes, given that UC Berkeley was denied some $202 million to replace it. While they didn’t commit to any specific action on Tolman, officials discussed cheaper reinforcements like those done to Eshleman Hall last summer when full funding was not available.
In July, the campus moved all students and student activities out of the building because of earthquake danger identified by a 1997 report that gave Tolman a “poor” seismic rating, which had also prompted UC Berkeley to consider replacing the building. Faculty and staff still remain in Tolman.
It’s the worst “poor” rated building on campus, officials said. The meeting was held, ironically, in the Education Psychology Library on the second floor of Tolman Hall.
Now, as state funds have dried up, officials are looking toward stop-gap solutions to try and increase Tolman’s safety as much as possible. At the same time, though, Vice Provost Cathy Koshland said the state “has an obligation to make the investments” in Tolman. Engineers will continue to develop plans to replace Tolman in the event that funding comes through, but Koshland said that would be highly unlikely.
Meanwhile, some faculty voiced concerns that the campus wasn’t being proactive enough in finding cost-effective ways to improve safety for those still in the building, such as protective lining for windows or securing desks.
“It wasn’t clear that they had yet thought of those,” said William Runyan, a professor emeritus in the School of Social Welfare who works on the fourth floor of Tolman at the Institute of Personality and Social Research.
Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email that the university is thinking about how to make Tolman safer.
“We will be working with the two Deans and the chair to facilitate non-structural seismic mitigation implementation,” she said in the email, though she declined to comment on any specifics.
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