Transition to new science building, Chaparral Hall, proves to have some setbacks

Charles Landon

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Chaparral Hall, the new math and biology building, opened this fall for classes. Students still have lab in Jerome Richfield until later this semester when Chaparral Hall's lab rooms will be ready for use. Photo Credit: Charles Landon / Staff Photographer

Chaparral Hall opened its doors to CSUN students this fall holding both math and biology classes.  The four-story metal building is getting mixed reviews from teachers and students at CSUN.  While many like the new building, it still has several issues that need to be taken care of before teachers and students can fully appreciate what the building has to offer.

“It’s been going smoothly as possible,” said Leslie Gillman, the room reservations and academic facilities coordinator, “Only the open lecture rooms were slated for occupancy for the start of the fall semester.  Labs, faculty, department offices, etc. are schedules for move-in slowly over this semester with full occupancy for the Spring 2010 semester.”

“The teachers are nice and the stuff that we are learning is cool”, said Ying Deng, a sophomore environmental occupational health student. “The rooms don’t have clocks yet. They said they are hopefully getting clocks and trashcans.”

Deng is taking two classes in Chaparral Hall, biology and pre-calculus, and he really enjoys the teachers and the subject matter.

“A lot of people are trying to get into math classes and science classes. So, I think it helps,” said Deng, “Just hope that it stands for a while.”

Chaparral Hall has some great technological improvements, but some practical stuff is missing such as trashcans and clocks, which is something every teacher wants to have in their classroom said Edouard Tchertchian, who is a grad student and math teaching associate.

“There have also been a lot of technological improvements.  The camera is a great improvement, I use it to teach… the projectors are good, the quality is really good, the resolution has improved.” said Tchertchian, “Practically, it’s still not ready. Maybe it’s because they are still waiting on stuff… but they need to do some minor improvements that are practical stuff.”

The classrooms in Chaparral Hall include a large blackboard and a sliding whiteboard that covers up half of the blackboard on the wall that students are facing.  One of the issues is that one can’t use just one or the other; they have to use both.

“You could stick to blackboards, but if you write notes on one side and then you slide the whiteboard and nobody is going to see what you wrote and you are going to have to wait for everyone to copy them down,” said Evelyn Nge, a grad student and math teaching associate.

“I liked Jerome Richfield better. I don’t like the fact that they switch the classes here, but all the labs are still in Jerome Richfield so you have to walk across campus to go to lab,” she explained.

“The plans were to open the classrooms first.  While every effort was made to get things completed before the start of classes, a few items were missed,” said Gillman.  “The clocks were purchased months ago, but we were having trouble getting them synched up with the transmitter – hence the delay on installation.”

As CSUN puts the final touches on the building, including the trash cans and clocks, some of these issues will disappear and Chaparral Hall will become the new high tech building that CSUN originally intended.

“In general, we are very pleased with the overall look and design of the building and believe it to be a stunning asset to the Cal State Northridge campus,” said Gillman.  “We’re looking forward to getting the rest of the labs up and running and are in the process of creating some beautiful collaborative learning spaces on the third and fourth floors.”