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East College Closure Disperses Professors

Jacob Kaufhold ’21, Staff Writer

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The closure of East College for asbestos removal for the fall 2018 semester has displaced professors and students to temporary office and classroom spaces, a change most have settled into after some initial jostling.

“It’s a bit frustrating,” said Professor and Classics department Chair Marc Mastrangelo on the move of his department to the Clarke Forum Offices. “But you know, what are you going to do? It’s asbestos.”

The Dickinson community was notified in an Aug. 2 email that East College would be closed in the fall semester due to the discovery of asbestos-containing material in the building’s ducts and other renovations to accessibility and air conditioning. The email stated “any asbestos levels are well below the permissible exposure limits established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” 

East College usually houses the English, classics, philosophy and religious studies departments. However, for the time being, these offices are dispersed around campus. The classics department has been relocated to the Clarke Forum offices, the religion department to the lower level of the Waidner-Spahr Library and the philosophy department to Allison Hall. 

“None of us wanted to move,” said Chauncey Maher, associate professor of Philosophy. “We landed in Allison, where each of us shares a room with someone else.” Still, Maher said, Academic Affairs, Administration and Facilities were all “eminently reasonable.”  

“Our place is new and unusual,” said Maher, “but we like each other and our happy community will go on.”

The English department has been moved to the Historic President’s House, which is more convenient for some. Even though the building is closer to her house, English major Molly Gorelick ’19 said she is “very aware of the inconveniences the change caused for the department in terms of having to move everything and get situated on such short notice.” Still, “It is really nice though to have class in a converted living room with lots of natural light and talk about poetry. It feels very civilized!” 

The departments have been kept together for the most part. “We’re able to house everyone in the same place,” said Mastrangelo. To him, this was key, and “wise for the administration to do.” 

Professor of Religion Dan Cozort said “No one has explained to us how the company what was supposed to do asbestos abatement could spend an entire summer at it and fail so badly that the building has to be shut down for the year,” said Cozort. “It sounds like gross incompetence and I hope the College sues them big time.”

“I don’t know much about how the teaching spaces my colleagues have are working out, except that not having enough space/chairs has been a problem in a few cases,” Cozort said. “I miss natural light and air but am accommodating.”

Professor Siobhan Phillips, chair of the English department, is not perturbed by the temporary change to the Historic President’s House. It is “not ideal, obviously our home is East College,” she said. “But it’s also wonderful to experience this space, which is historic and beautiful and part of Dickinson.”

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East College Closure Disperses Professors