Fashion students lament new work space
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 04:05
Junior Samantha Tharler, an apparel design major, said she spent many nights constructing garments in Alison Hall without worrying about when she had to leave the building before it was closed for renovations last spring.
However, since the lab was relocated to the basement of the Perkins Student Center because of renovations to Alison Hall, which will be completed in 2013, she said her work has been negatively affected because she can’t stay in the building overnight.
“I’m a night person so it’s really hard,” Tharler said. “We used to go at 11 p.m. and just work through the night.”
Some apparel design majors said the relocation of the sewing lab used by apparel design students in Alison Hall to Perkins has increased the difficulty of completing class assignments. The lab closes at 3 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and at midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Apparel design professor Belinda Orzada said she tried to negotiate with university employees to allow unlimited access to the lab for students. She changed due dates for projects as a result of the limited hours.
“I’m trying to be flexible and help them out because I understand the situation, but still, by the end of the semester they must do as much and learn as much as the students did last semester,” Orzada said.
As a designer, Orzada said she knows that time constraints can seriously hinder the progress of a student’s work.
“I know when I’m working on a project I want to keep working on it,” Orzada said. “I don’t want to pack up at midnight or even [3 a.m.] You’re on a roll, you keep going, but this is work that they can’t do at home, [with] special equipment, big tables. You don’t have space in your dorm or apartment.”
Marilyn Prime, director of University Student Centers, stated in an email message that apparel design students’ access to the lab has not been restricted but extended by an additional 12 hours each week. She hopes that once Alison Hall is renovated, apparel design majors will be able to return to the lab’s original location.
“The current Perkins Student Center space arrangement only serves as temporary space during the Alison Hall renovation period,” Prime said.
Junior Nicole Vassallo said she sometimes struggles to finish projects because she has to accommodate the lab’s availability into her schedule.
“I have to make time in between classes,” Vassallo said. “That’s not enough time anyway because I know I can’t stay here all night.”
Sophomore Emily Harp said the university has hired an employee to check on the students from midnight to 3 a.m. She said students are not allowed to enter the building after midnight, despite the fact that the lab is open.
“They pay the sitter to stay with us midnight to 3 a.m. and all he does is come down and count how many of us there are, says ‘hi’ and comes upstairs,” Harp said. “We are not allowed to let people in. Once it’s 12, the doors lock.”
Senior Kelsey Pushkarewicz, president of Synergy, a fashion interest student group that produces a runway show each year, said students working on last month’s show needed to use the lab to alter garments but could not do so.
“We actually ended up taking a dress from home and we had to bring it back the next day, but we had to move stuff out of there because that’s equipment that we need and without that it takes twice as long,” Pushkarewicz said.
Despite some obstacles, Pushkarewicz said the show went well.
“I think the show was really great [but if the lab was open more frequently] the designers would have been less stressed,” she said.
Pushkarewicz said stress is normal for apparel design majors, but the atmosphere of Perkins’ basement is not relaxing to work in, and its lack of windows contributes to what she considers an unpleasant atmosphere.
“You can’t tell what time of day it is and there’s no Internet and that means many of the girls don’t have phone service,” she said. “We literally just disappear for the hours that we are there.”
Harp said construction in Perkins Student Center has also negatively affected the working atmosphere in the lab. On one occasion, construction equipment that was being operated outside the building caused vibrations in the lab that made her feel sick.
“One time the room was shaking so much from them drilling, and I left and a couple other girls left because we didn’t feel good,” she said.
Despite students’ complaints, Tharler said there are some advantages to the basement sewing lab.
“The space is a lot bigger than the old Alison,” she said. “There is a vending machine so we have late-night snacks.”
She said she is not surprised that apparel design majors have found themselves relocated to this part of campus.
“It’s like, ‘stick the fashion majors in the basement’ and it seems like we are at the bottom of the chain in school,” Tharler said. “And we probably need to work the most hours because it takes so long to make a dress.”