As the upcoming renovation of Eshleman Hall looms closer, several UC Berkeley student groups find themselves struggling with the process of moving into “surge” spaces in Hearst Gym.
Students approved the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative in the 2010 ASUC general election, which created a student fee to fund the revitalization of Lower Sproul. As part of the process, Eshleman will be completely rebuilt, meaning the more than 200 student groups currently housed in the building must relocate in the coming months.
For Open Computing Facility General Manager Dara Adib, the biggest question is dealing with a smaller space and the equipment that cannot be moved.
“We currently have six racks of server equipment and we only have room for two in the new space,” Adib said. “Our current air conditioning unit is also too big, so we have to figure out what we’re going to do with it.”
The facility is a student-run organization that provides computing, web hosting, printing, email and storage services to the campus community.
Adib explained that while the facility currently has 25 available computers in its ground floor laboratory in Eshleman, the new space only has room for 16.
“Problems are to be expected. Our challenge is to fit everything and be ready for the fall semester,” Adib said. “I really don’t know what might happen in terms of server and service problems.”
According to Adib, if everything goes as planned, there will only be one day of server downtime. In comparison, Adib pointed out that the last time the facility had to move, there was a full month of downtime.
When the facility moved from Heller Lounge in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union to Eshleman three years ago, there was an increase in space and resources and more people began using the facility.
But there were problems with that move as well, according to Adib, who said that facility members had to deal with asbestos, burst pipes and, at one point, a flooded lab.
“With any of these moves, bad things happen,” Adib said.
The surge process is being spearheaded by ASUC Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath and ASUC Student Spaces Deputy Briana Mullen.
“It’s a tough process because it’s not easy to get students together to discuss space,” Sayarath said.
The ASUC had a stakeholder process to get input from students on their space needs, according to Sayarath. The space was then assigned after an application process.
“We’ve had to plan data and phone services as well as locks, tables and trash and composting. It’s really cool because it’s completely student owned,” Sayarath said.
According to Sayarath, the actual move will be even more complicated than assigning the space, as the different groups have different boxes and items that need to be moved.
Sayarath and Mullen worked for two weeks to compile an inventory sheet, to which student groups had until July 3 to make additions or changes. The inventory was then given to the campus movers, who will provide a quote for the cost of moving.
Sayarath said the ASUC will hold a mandatory Hearst Space Orientation on Aug. 20, where ASUC leaders will address trash, recycling, tabling, phone and internet questions. Groups will also be provided with key and lock forms at the orientation.
“I want the new space to not be like Eshleman because students haven’t really taken care of it,” Sayarath said. “People see it as the heart of student life, and it looks bad.”
Sayrath said the space at Hearst Gym will be much more collaborative, with more open cubicles and common space. But Student Advocate Stacy Suh said she had some reservations about the new space.
“Internally, our office is a very tight-knit group,” Suh said. “I think that natural bonding might be lost because the space is smaller so there will be less people in the office.”
Suh’s office offers help to any student or group involved in a dispute with the campus, and she said the smaller space could also make maintaining client privacy a problem.
Adib said though the ASUC has been helpful, the process has been difficult with new elected officers overseeing it every year.
“This has been the most difficult project I’ve had to do with ASUC. If it wasn’t for Briana, I might have quit by now,” Sayarath said. “But I think it’s going to be OK. The student groups are aware of what needs to be done.”
As for the many groups who are moving, the idea of leaving Eshleman Hall elicits many emotional feelings.
“The OCF organization and this lab are one and the same,“ Adib said. “The thought of separating the two is tragic.”
Timofey Semenov is the Chief of Staff of the Student Advocate’s Office, and according to Suh, handled most of the packing of the student advocate’s office.
“I’m sure that I speak for every (SAO member) to have gone through 204 Eshleman when I say that many special memories and important moments were cherished in that office, and that — in many respects — the move out of 204 Eshleman truly feels like losing a great friend,” Semenov said in an email.