Crowds grab free leftover goods from Campbell Hall

Raymond Ma, a first-year undergraduate, rummages through free items in Campbell Hall. Campbell Hall is scheduled to be demolished due to seismic concerns.
Giana Tansman/Staff
Raymond Ma, a first-year undergraduate, rummages through free items in Campbell Hall. Campbell Hall is scheduled to be demolished due to seismic concerns.

Thursday’s Free Day in Campbell Hall — a free-for-all for students, faculty and staff to grab whatever remained in the seismically unsafe, now-abandoned building — attracted more than 100 people and was punctuated by a magnitude 4.0 earthquake in the  afternoon.

The Free Day began promptly at 11 a.m. and ended around 3 p.m. Two more Free Days are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the same times. Though Thursday and Friday are open only to UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students with Cal IDs, Saturday will be open to the general public.

ReUSE, a UC Berkeley student-run group that promotes reusing materials instead of throwing them away, the Department of Capital Projects and the Physical Plant-Campus Services’ Campus Recycling and Refuse Services organized the event to get rid of the leftover furniture and supplies in the seismically poor building — furniture that would have otherwise been demolished in February 2012 along with the building.

Organizers let small groups of 10 people enter the building at a time to keep order — a slow but safe system. The hall’s elevators were cordoned off, and all available goods had been moved to the first floor for safety precautions. People wandered around, finding everything from cameras to tennis rackets to posters of raccoons.

Sophomore Kevin Huang was among the first people there, having waited outside with an eager group of about 15 before the doors opened. He left the hall holding a large box filled with a random assortment of discovered treasure, including a wok, books and a tennis racket.

ReUSE manager Kimberly Lam said the turnout was much higher than expected, especially compared to previous Free Days at Marchant Hall and the state Department of Health Services building.

“They weren’t as popular as this is,” Lam said. “I think it’s because this one is on campus, so it’s easy for faculty and students.”

The groups have been preparing for the Free Days for the past month. The groups had cleared all seven floors and the basement of Campbell Hall and moved everything to the first floor. Along with salvaging furniture and other items, the group was able to recycle around 2,000 pounds of paper.

“For the past month we’ve come every Saturday and worked around five hours,” said ReUSE manager Claire Porter.

Porter added that the suggestion for the Free Day came from Capital Projects — the division within the campus Department of Facilities Services in charge of the demolition.

“Basically, ReUSE was contacted because they knew that when a building gets demolished, furniture goes out with it,” said Porter. “They were disgusted, and they wanted that to change.”

The earthquake shook the seismically unfit building minutes before the event closed at 3 p.m. The tremor coincided with staff telling students to clear out before closing.

“We felt the irony,” Porter said.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Observation

    What? “The Free Day began promptly at 11 a.m.” only for those of us who obey rules, but it started at 9:30am or before for non-‘students, faculty or staff’ who filled up their trucks and left before 11:00am.