Eshleman Hall opens doors during grand-opening ceremony

Sierra Brown/Staff

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A campus building opened its doors Tuesday during a grand-opening ceremony, welcoming students and community members alike.

Eshleman Hall — included in the Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project — is a 10-year, $223 million project that was “all done with the vision and leadership of our students,” said Joseph Greenwell, associate vice chancellor of student affairs and dean of students.

In April 2010, UC Berkeley students approved a fee referendum that would fund the Lower Sproul renovation, enabling the new Student Union to offer a 24-hour study lounge and a permanent Multicultural Community Center.

According to Miguel Daal, a former Graduate Assembly president who was present at the ceremony, the referendum passed because of collaboration between students and the administration, a tremendous amount of flexibility from all parties and a shared vision for the project.

Eshleman Hall, originally built in 1963, now features space for more than 50 student organizations, seven student recruitment and retention centers, ASUC and Graduate Assembly offices, ASUC LEAD Center advisers and ASUC Senate chambers.

The original building was demolished in August 2013 after the official closing of Lower Sproul Plaza.

During her opening address, ASUC Executive Vice President Lavanya Jawaharlal said that along with the new buildings, space and opportunities to grow, Eshleman Hall represents “a new beginning for the ASUC.”

In addition, ASUC Senator Kathy Tran said the opening of Eshleman Hall will unify the student body and facilitate communication among organizations.

“This is going to be the first time people are going to experience physical collaboration,” Tran said.

Mayor Tom Bates, who was also at the ceremony, similarly said the development was an “opportunity for students to continue doing the wonderful things they do while looking at the world.”

During a video presentation, Harry Le Grande, vice chancellor for student affairs, expressed his desire for Lower Sproul to become the “heartbeat of campus,” a place students could use for both leisure and study. Le Grande also described the project as a new hub for student activities and groups.

As the ceremony came to a close, DeeJay Pepito, commercial space coordinator for the Student Union and former ASUC president, and other members of the project expressed their high hopes for Lower Sproul. Pepito also noted the “tremendous amount of women leadership” at the center of the construction.

“We are confident in the future and of the future of student life,” Pepito said.

Contact Brenna Smith at [email protected].

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that the newly reopened Eshleman Hall only features space for a single student recruitment and retention center. In fact, the building houses the Bridges Multicultural Resource Center, a coalition of seven recruitment and retention centers.