By Victoria Remley
Youngstown State University puts in a lot of time and money to have clean, contemporary buildings. One building that is not as well kept is Bliss Hall. While Bliss Hall receives funding, there are still problems with the facility that needs attention.
Students and teachers agree that general renovations need to be done in Bliss Hall.
Misook Yun, the voice coordinator and professor at YSU, said rooms need to be soundproofed, and watermarks and missing tiles on the ceilings need to be repaired.
Yun said space is an issue with the teachers. The classrooms are too small for the number of students that are in them, which result in classes being held in different rooms on different days.
Yun said the building does not have adequate climate control. The summertime is too cold; the winter is too hot.
Joseph D’Uva, associate professor of art and printmaking, said the art department has done updates without the school’s help. He has seen areas in Bliss Hall get new floors but it is time for updates to furniture and paint.
D’Uva said if new students come into Bliss and see an updated building, they may be more likely to go to YSU.
“With prospective students coming in with their parents to see a nice, fresh, contemporary looking and feeling space, even if the building is older, is a good selling point,” D’Uva said.
He said colleges such as the Cleveland Institute of Art and Kent State University have newer facilities, and YSU has to find a way to stay relevant.
D’Uva said the whole campus should look about the same, and it does not.
“When you go to Williamson you’re blown away, and then you come over here and you’re underwhelmed,” D’Uva said.
Nathan Wagner, a third-year musical theatre student, said the rehearsal studio and Spotlight Theater were renovated with funding from last summer. He said even though these renovations were done, the rest of Bliss is struggling.
Joanne Santiago and Derrick Logan, two janitors at YSU, commented on the renovation issues, saying that the bathrooms, carpet, furniture and stairwells are old and worn. They said the third and fourth floors were redone recently, but floors in the studios need attention.
Logan said the condition of the practice rooms were poor years before he started working at YSU in 2010.
“Some things we can clean, some things aren’t going to come clean,” Logan said.
Logan said that some of the stains in the practice rooms have been there for years, before he got to YSU.
Santiago, Logan and the rest of the janitorial staff scrub and wax the floors.
Another problem with Bliss Hall is the amount of time it takes to get to restaurants from the hall. The university’s solution to this problem was to install a vending machine with sandwiches in it on the first floor of the building.
Wagner said he spends three to four hours in Bliss when he is not doing a show, and up to twelve hours in Bliss when doing a show. He only leaves Bliss Hall to go home, work or eat and leaves to get food at least once a day.
Wagner said access to food is the biggest problem in Bliss. Many people in Bliss take a lot of time out of their day to go get food. He said Cassese’s MVR is the closest food place for Bliss students, but it does not take Pete’s Points, a meal plan for YSU students that allows them to not carry cash.
Wagner said that Bliss students petitioned for a café a few times since he’s been a student at YSU.
“The vending machine is like gas station food. It’s expensive and terrible quality, and it’s never stocked. That was their solution and it’s awful,” Wagner said.
Effie Starheim, president of the Ohio Collegiate Music Education Association, also a third-year student, commented on the Bliss Hall vending machine saying she was unhappy with it.
“I was not very satisfied with what they were serving out of that machine. I got a sandwich out of the machine once and threw pretty much all of it away. It was not good,” Starheim said.
D’Uva, said that students in the art department are often at Bliss Hall throughout the night, and the vending machine has very unhealthy options.
“They put in that food vending machine, but the ingredients [names] on the food are longer than the label can even handle so it’s a very unhealthy choice,” D’Uva said.
D’Uva said a café would help students and teachers in Bliss departments create a better community. He knows the teachers in departments other than the arts, but does not interact with them unless he specifically goes to see them.
D’Uva said buildings across campus, such as the Williamson College of Business, have cafés and places for people to sit and eat.
Amy Crawford, associate professor and interim chair of the Communication Department, said Bliss Hall departments don’t communicate with each other enough and that a café would help.
“It would be nice if there was some shared space that we all used,” Crawford said.
Yun said she was unhappy with the vending machine. She said it would be nice to have healthier food options in Bliss Hall. She does not go outside to get food because of the construction, so any food she has throughout the day is brought from her home.
If Bliss were to get more funding, Yun said that a new concert hall, classrooms, rehearsal spaces, more windows and soundproofing in rooms would be nice.
Crawford said she would like to see funding go towards aesthetics and structural issues.
“There are some structural issues that aren’t quite as exciting that would need to be addressed.” Crawford said.
Wagner said he would like to see the money go toward a café.
He said it doesn’t have to be a full kitchen and that serving sandwiches would be fine. He also said he would like to see money go toward general renovations and funding for teachers throughout campus.
Starheim said that she would like to see funding for Bliss go towards facility updates.
In particular classrooms, tiles are coming off the floors. The structure of the building is fine, but that the appearance of the rooms needs work.
Starheim said that not all the rooms in Bliss need updated.
“Some areas are pretty good, and some areas are not so good,” Starheim said.
Starheim would also like to see Bliss funding go towards buying new instruments for Bliss students to use. During Woodwind Methods, a required class for Music Education majors, a student used a clarinet the school provided that was completely metal, while ensembles today use plastic clarinets. The instructor said that the instrument had probably been around since the ’70s.
Logan and Santiago said they would like to see Bliss funding go towards a second elevator, new water fountains and new practice room floors and carpets.
OCMEA took it upon themselves to paint Bliss Hall’s education/audition room with no help from the university.
OCMEA, a college group, organizes professional development opportunities to help students realize what the professional music world will be like.
Starheim said OCMEA painted the room because people audition in that room.
She said that the audition room was not maintained and needed a fresh look.
“Potential students see the audition rooms not being maintained, not being well kept, it might deter their decision to come to YSU and be in the Dana School of Music, because if you can’t maintain your facilities then what’s the rest of the school like?” Starheim said.
Starheim said she thought YSU should have paid for and updated the Bliss Hall audition room.
“We are already paying tuition to go here. What we pay every semester in tuition not only goes towards maintenance of rooms and our education. But when I’m learning about how to teach future students, I hope to be in a friendly environment, a clean environment, a very well looking environment,” Said Starheim.
Yun said it was very frustrating to see the room in its past condition and the room improved because of OCMEA.
Ron Cole, YSU’s public information officer, said while Bliss Hall could use some updates, it has had some renovations done within recent years.
Cole said that over the past several years, expensive renovations have been done to the graduate student studio space, at an expense of around $150,000. Steam lines between Bliss Hall and Meshel Hall were replaced in 2016 costing $900,000.
Cole said safety repairs and repairs to the outside of the building took place in 2015. Other renovations also took place in Bliss Hall.
YSU decides when buildings will be renovated by looking at two factors.
Cole said that they look at buildings that are in the worst conditions and at areas that are necessary for students to succeed.
Bliss Hall is not completely up-to-date even with its funding.