A fire broke out at the Women’s Resource and Research Center at CSUN the night of Dec. 18, the day after finals were over. A power surge also occurred on campus that same night.
“It seems like a marvelous coincidence the two happened on the same night,” said Harry Hellenbrand, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The fire that occurred at the center happened after the power surge.
Hellenbrand was at his home when he received a call from President Jolene Koester informing him about the fire. He informed the center’s director, Dr. Florence Kyomugisha, about the fire.
The center is run by volunteers and it’s a place where women can come to seek help and service. The center is located on the corner of Darby Avenue and Plummer Street.
“It really meant a lot to, not only women’s studies majors, but to all students,” said June Kwon, president of the Women’s Studies Student Association.
Upon arriving at the scene, the main priority was to see if anyone was in the house, Hellenbrand said. After inspecting, it was determined that there was no one in the house during the fire.
“I could have been there the next day,” said Stephanie Montes, assistant director at the center and vice-president of the WSSA.
Montes, who has been the assistant director since the fall 2007, was informed about the fire from Kyomugisha. Montes drove past the house a few days later to see what condition it was in.
The house is currently boarded up and access to the inside is not allowed due to asbestos.
Montes said that there were no indications of structural damage.
The center served as the meeting place for the WSSA. The WSSA would hold their general body meetings and events at the house.
The short-term goal is to find a place for the WSSA to hold their meetings and events, said Dr. Marta Lopez-Garza, faculty advisor to the WSSA.
The Asian American Studies Students Association has offered the WSSA the use of their house as a temporary solution for holding meetings and events, said Dr. Lopez-Garza.
The long-term goal for the center is to see if the space can be used again or if it needs to be rebuilt, Hellenbrand said.
The on-going investigation has not revealed the cause of the fire or if it had any connection with the power surge that occurred.
Hellenbrand said it is guaranteed that within a couple of weeks the investigation will be completed.
“We can’t be going into the end of the term without having adequate space for what they need to do,” Hellenbrand said.
The WSSA’s first general body meeting is scheduled for Feb. 13, Kwon said.
Rhea Tepp, director of events for WSSA, said the WSSA’s first scheduled event of the semester is called F-word 2 and will be held on Feb. 25.
The WSSA will continue with planned events like Take Back the Night, which is an annual event held in April that gives men and women a chance to come together in the community to support the empowerment of women. Another event is the Pinwheel Project, a weeklong project where the members of the WSSA put pinwheels on the Sierra Quad with statistical information about violence against women.
As the investigation is still underway, the WSSA is being positive about the situation, Montes said.
“We’re being very patient right now and we understand the administration has other priorities, but we want the women’s center to be one of their top priorities,” Montes said.