Sac State’s Kadema Hall renovation has art students dropping classes and demanding tuition refunds

“We do not really see any of the improvements that are supposed to be happening.”


Anh Nguyen

Elizabeth Ballard-Branco (left) and Sage Stanley (right) stand in the middle of the breezeway at Kadema Hall on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. The renovation has made ceramic making and printmaking more difficult and prevented some students from completing their artworks.

Anh Nguyen

Elizabeth Ballard-Branco, a fourth year studio art major, walked into their class at Kadema Hall with a heavy heart as they realized art students had been displaced into microbiology labs for the rest of the fall semester. The lab has no proper ventilation for them to practice etching, an art method that they are paying their tuition to be able to learn. 

“The renovation in Kadema Hall has severely disrupted the learning experience of almost every art student,” they said. “We do not really see any of the improvements that are supposed to be happening.”

Ballard-Branco said they drafted a grievance letter to the Sacramento State art department and started collecting art students’ signatures. In their statement, they wrote about the overcrowding of the Art Sculpture Lab, the lack of storage spaces, studios with missing sinks, buildings with missing bathrooms, air conditioners, ventilation issues, and inoperable electrical outlets.

Having decided to drop out of Sac State partway through the fall 2021 semester, Ballard-Branco said they felt that the spaces that students were moved into lacked proper ventilation and were inadequate in terms of health and safety. 

“What we have experienced is they ripped out all of the sinks and did not replace any of them yet,” Ballard-Branco said. “The electricity did not work in either room and there is actually a lot of debris and dust.” 

Renovation of Kadema Hall started in early 2021 with plans to finish at the beginning of March 2022. The completion date was postponed to the beginning of April due to supply chain issues according to art department chair Carolyn Gibbs.

“As a sculpture student who attends classes on the other side of campus, I could not do any foundry work because the ceramic students had to use one part of the sculpture yard to do their work,” Ember de Boer, a senior student in the art department, said.


De Boer said she wants her tuition to be reimbursed since she has not had access to the things she needs to do her work

“It is really detrimental because we all specialize in different types of art, and we all pay to learn how to get better at those types of arts,” De Boer said. “When certain processes or materials or resources are not available to us, it severely damages our ability to grow, to learn and the exact things we pay to go to school here for.,” 

Sage Stanley, a studio art major student, said the renovation is stressful and frustrating and wished that the school had a more concrete deadline.

“We were originally told [the renovation] was supposed to be done in January, but now it is almost halfway through March,” Stanley said.

There was no communication sent out to students before the spring semester started regarding the completion or delay of the renovation, according to Gibbs. 

“Many people are very frustrated and feel as though we are not being supported by this institution,” Ballard-Branco said.  

According to Ballard-Bronco, they would have taken a break from classes but was not given enough time to make that decision because of the department’s short notice.

Gibbs sent out an email welcoming students back to campus and announcing construction updates at Kadema Hall on Aug 20, 2021, four days before the semester started. Gibbs announced in her email that one of the two main art facilities inside Kadema Hall was closed for the entire fall semester.

Gibbs said that the renovation is about 95 percent complete, with the remaining 5 percent of work being done in an unfinished photography lab.

Restrooms near the Sac State art department office closed on Thursday, March 3, 2022. Some students have had to use other building’s restrooms as none of the ones in Kadema Hall have been open during the construction.

“The scope of work really was about addressing critical health and safety issues brought forward by the fire marshall as well as the national accreditation for arts and design,” Gibbs said. 

The project was generated due to safety issues and concerns about accessibility, according to project manager Keck Raymond, who has been managing design and construction projects at Sacramento State for almost seven years.

“In addition to building all new restrooms in the building, we took advantage of this project to put an all-gender bathroom in [and] accessibility upgrades for the elevator which are not done yet, but they will be done in the next few months,” Raymond said.

According to Raymond, the renovation was funded by the chancellor’s office and was supposed to be done around January. 

“There was an exterior space that had been walled off so that it could be used as a studio space, but it was never done with a permit and did not have any heat or cool,”  Raymond said. “We upgraded that and put in a glass storefront and closed that space and provided air conditioning and heating for that new studio in the center breezeway.”

Raymond said the Kadema Hall renovation is a difficult project because the building is old and has lots of unknowns. Kadema hall was originally built in 1954 and is the oldest building on campus, according to Raymond.

According to Raymond, the current accessibility code requires door handles for people with a disability, the bathrooms, which were originally from the 1950s, need to be upgraded and the north wing of the building had no air conditioning. Stairs on the second floor did not meet current codes and some places with sloping floors and old fire alarm systems have all been upgraded.

“It is going to be a much better building when we are done,” Raymond said.