Last semester, Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen praised Science II in a faculty senate meeting, saying that Science II would remedy the long-ignored and underfunded tragedies that are the current chemistry and biology programs.
He joked that students would no longer have to use periodic tables that belonged in museums and that students could finally be in the 21st century with modern scientific technology.
The truth is, if the $91 million to be spent on Science II was really to go toward modernization, it would have gone toward the elusive Art Sculpture Lab — an isolated, decrepit nightmare unknown to everyone but the art students.
For those unfamiliar with the Art Sculpture Lab, it’s next to the police department, all the way in one of the only parking lots with open spaces past 10 a.m.
But its distance from all the other halls on campus isn’t the only problem with the Art Sculpture Lab — the lab itself is in disrepair.
A building closely resembling a long warehouse, it is desperately in need of renovations to support the dedicated art students who toil early in the morning and late into the night to bring culture to a campus where every hall — except for two different walls in two halls — is painted like a solid, off-white prison complex.
The Art Sculpture Lab has an unwelcoming appearance, with an atmosphere only slightly fixed by numerous art sculptures and paintings, music over the speakers and students at work.
The outside of the Art Sculpture Lab also leaves much to be desired, with its rusty, warehouse-looking outer appearance.
Such an appearance is a stark contrast to the mural located in Kadema Hall, the other part of the art department, and a contradiction to the spirit of art.
Functionally, the Art Sculpture Lab is a tragedy. The ventilation, quite frankly, sucks. It’s deathly cold in the morning and the smell of trapped paint fumes and a strange sort of dust will make any unsuspecting newcomer duck out of the building. The only time there’s noticeable ventilation is when rain leaks through the ceiling.
Among the entire expanse of the warehouse, there are only three toilets. One women’s, one men’s and one in a hallway that can presumably be used by any brave soul who doesn’t mind having two open doors and students passing through. It figures then that the toilet in the hallway is also the only one that isn’t stained.
If you need drinking water while in the Art Sculpture Lab, the faucets and fountains won’t be of any help and you’re a good five-minute walk from the University Union. Thankfully, the kind professors who instruct in the Art Sculpture Lab buy packs of bottled water for their students.
A natural sciences student might say, “Well, what’s it to me? STEM is the future and STEM is what needs the money more,” to which I’ll kindly remind such a student that STEM and art are not mutually exclusive.
Who do you think draws the diagrams and figures in your textbooks? Who creates the visual aids in the journals you’re made to read?
Art is more than a hobby — it is one of the most ancient and successful methods of communication and teaching.
And what better way to communicate or teach a developing and complex subject as the sciences?
So it can be reasoned that students in scientific fields should learn art along with their main studies. I know, it’s an additional class to programs that already take upward of five years to complete — but the benefits to all far outweigh a three-unit class.
Visual representation for teaching aids and communicating scientific findings are critical — art should be taught alongside the sciences.
And Sac State can lead in this new type of education if it stops pushing art into the disaster of an educational lab that is contrary to everything Sac State wants to be.
In short, instead of Science II, we should have had Art II — an artful, creative building that everyone drives past and admires, and that not only raises the standard of life on campus, but raises Sac State into the modern age.