To: Susannah Scott, Academic Senate Chair, UCSB
Henry Yang, Chancellor, UCSB
Cc: Michael V. Drake, UC President
Cecilia Estolano, Chair, UC Board of Regents
Robert Horwitz, Chair, UC Academic Senate
From: Concerned UCSB Senate Faculty
Re: The planning of Munger Hall at UCSB
The UCSB Academic Senate Town Hall Meeting, “Faculty Questions on the Munger Hall Project,” held on November 15, 2021, intensified pervasive and significant concerns about
(a) UCSB administration’s lack of response to fundamental questions about student well-being related to the Munger Hall project, including concerns about mental health, physical safety, security, and accessibility;
(b) student housing options on campus and future housing projects;
(c) building funding, planning and construction processes at UCSB;
(d) abrogation of the right of faculty shared governance;
(e) the impact of these decisions on UCSB’s stated commitment to social justice and equity;
(f) UCSB administration’s failure to adequately take into account and address the opinion of experts in architectural design and rethink the design to ensure student well-being.
On the Design of Munger Hall: A broad swath of architectural design and housing experts both within and outside the university have criticized the design. Among its many problems we call particular attention to: (i) lack of natural light and ventilation—particularly the absence of openable windows; (ii) floor plan that reveals poor organization of space at the scale of the rooms, the suites, and the entire floor space at each level; (iii) inadequate thought given to student accommodation and well-being, given what we know about virus transmission, quarantine, and recovery in situations such as COVID-19; (iv) poor wayfinding and evacuation plans that would greatly endanger students in fires, earthquakes and other disasters; (v) massing and volume; (vi) environmental sustainability.
We, the faculty, are gravely concerned by these issues, and we urge the UCSB administration, including Chancellor Yang, to address openly, explicitly and responsibly the many questions regarding the current design’s impact on the safety, security and mental well-being of the students. These fundamental questions were not answered at the November 15 Town Hall meeting and we urge the administration to answer them now.
On Due Process: A key reason for the current state of affairs is that the usual design review process that has governed campus construction over the last 30 years was bypassed. The request-for-proposal stage of the design review process was ignored, thereby eliminating potential competition to Munger’s design. When the design review committee and its panel of architects were asked to comment, their views were not adequately taken into account.
We have two options to move forward:
1. Stop the plans. Begin the entire design process again following the established procedures of the design review committee.
2. Halt the process and modify the plans. Consider the advice of a joint committee of experts on design, health and safety, drawn from both outside and inside UCSB, including Academic Senate Members and student representatives. The UCSB Academic Senate must have a say in the composition of such a panel of experts, the issues they will be asked to consider, and the way in which their recommendations would be implemented.
We wish to send a clear message to the Chancellor, UC Office of the President, the UC Board of Regents, and the donor, that we will not accept inequitable and unsafe options for student housing.
While we recognize the measures that must be taken to resolve the immediate housing crisis, we call on UCSB to democratically and transparently develop a long-range housing plan that ensures safety, affordability, community responsibility, and environmental sustainability for students, faculty, and staff. Not only does UCSB have a responsibility in this regard, but so do the President of the University and the UC Board of Regents.
Sincerely, Concerned UCSB Senate Faculty, including,
John Majewski Richard Wittman
Ann Jensen Adams
Mark A. Meadow
Catherine L. Albanese
Barbara Herr Harthorn
Herbert M. Cole
Barbara A. Holdrege
Juan E. Campo
Kevin B. Anderson
John S. W. Park
Sara Pankenier Weld
Amr El Abbadi
Stuart Tyson Smith
Volker M. Welter
John W. I. Lee
Sylvester O. Ogbechie
Roberta L. Rudnick
Amrah Salomón J.
Ralph Armbruster Sandoval
Carlos J. Garcia-Cervera
Juan Cobo Betancourt
France Winddance Twine
Juan Pablo Lupi
Valentina L. Padula