Repairs displace San Jose State journalism

Hundreds of students and faculty members in San Jose State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications remain shut out of the school’s building due to ongoing water damage repairs, an official said.

The school at first housed student classes in the Student Ballroom after the building was closed on Monday and then branched out after the university found alternative classrooms, school director Bob Rucker said:

“We’re just scattered all over campus now.”

But the school, which offers majors in journalism, advertising and public relations, is doing just fine, with its student newspaper and broadcast facilities still operating, proving the school can run “without all the bells and whistles,” he said.

The university closed the school’s 103-year-old Dwight Bentel Hall on Monday, the first day of the new fall semester at SJSU, after renovation work crews found water-damaged walls in some restrooms, corridors and offices in the east side of the building, officials said.

The moisture likely leached into the walls from a leak in the steam distribution system beneath the building, according to SJSU spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris. University leaders ordered the two-story structure temporarily closed to people out of concern the dampness in the walls could cause respiratory problems, Harris said.

SJSU’s Environmental Health and Safety department sealed off parts of the building with plastic sheets while workers removed materials from the damaged interior and used industrial fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the moisture, Harris said.

It will remain closed until work is completed, hopefully by Friday, Harris said. In all, about 1,250 students enrolled in classes at the school and 28 faculty members have been affected and 10 faulty members have requested temporary office space, according to Harris.

The hall, originally completed in 1911, was being renovated over the summer and was expected to be ready for the start of the fall semester, Harris said. Moving things out of Bentel Hall was a challenge at first and the school misses the advanced classroom technology built into it, Rucker said.

But professors still have the iPad tablets the school issued them last year and most other buildings on campus have WiFi, allowing the faculty to work remotely, Rucker said.

While some of the school’s classes are having to make due with “chalk and erasers” in other buildings, the school fully supports the university’s decision to keep Bentel closed until environmental testing is completed and it is deemed safe to return, Rucker said.