Colorado State students create petition to renovate anatomy building

A building with poor ventilation, an elevator that breaks down a few times a week and a freezer filled with two-dozen cadavers may sound like a set location for a horror film, but it actually describes CSU’s Anatomy Building.

Some students and faculty argue that the building’s conditions are enough to warrant a renovation but the Anatomy Department also needs additional space.

Because of these issues, biomedical sciences Assistant Professor Tod Clapp and biomedical science master’s graduate Justice Richerdsen and a group of students posted a petition on Change.org to gain support for renovations to the building.

Within the first 24 hours the petition had more than 200 signatures and two weeks later the number of signatures has reached more than 800.

According to Clapp, if the building presents a risk to student safety, the entire anatomical program is at risk. The State Anatomical Board can pull support for the program if they fear for student safety.

The main problems students and faculty claim with the building is a room size that can’t accommodate all the students, as well as a single, one-foot vent and an unreliable elevator.

“We are so limited with the facilities we have,” biomedical sciences major Lindsay Leech said. “We don’t have accessibility to the resources we need and we should be able to access the cadavers more often.”

In a photo Clapp took of his summer class, clusters of anatomy students sat and waited in the hallway outside the lab’s door when the veterinary students used their lab space. The Anatomy lab is too small to fit all the students in the room at the same time, according to Clapp.

Anatomy classes provide groups of four to five students their own cadaver, and students seeking future medical professions are provided an opportunity to explore and dissect the human body; a privilege few undergraduate programs offer.

“We are lucky to have 22 cadavers so each student can get great hands-on learning experience,” Clapp said. “CU’s program has two to four cadavers and 110 students share one body.”

Interest in Anatomy classes is so high that juniors and seniors are waitlisted and, in some cases, their graduation dates are postponed when they cannot register.

“The waitlist is as large as the class,” Clapp said. “Our hands are tied because of the restrictions of the building.”

“We have this great resource but we can’t always access it,” Richerdsen said.

Richerdsen came up with the idea to create a petition to renovate the building “even if he had to stand on the sidewalk with a clipboard,” Clapp said.

According to Director of Facilities Management and advisor to CSU’s University Facility Fee Advisory Board (UFFAB) Steve Hultin, petitions like these can tell administrators which buildings students want renovated.

“Every bit of input has a chance to make a difference and we want students to tell us what projects they want to see,” Hultin said. “Petitions like this can help frame that discussion.”

Along with voicing support of this type of renovation, students, graduates and parents who sign the petition can leave comments.

“MDs write and say this class is why they became MDs. This is what prepared them to succeed in medical school,” Clapp said.

Senior microbiology major Ryan Knodle agreed that alumni are even active in the discussion for renovating the Anatomy Lab.

“They (past anatomy students) care enough about the program and what the program has done for them that they want to foster the success of the students that will come after them even though they won’t partake in the fruits of their labor,” senior microbiology major Ryan Knodle said.

It’s this type of feedback that Hultin said UFFAB recognizes while deciding on future renovation projects.

“The university always takes into account input regarding particular projects and this is one where social media has provided that input,” Hultin said.

CSU has a three-step review board process in place to review proposals of future construction projects.

“Right now the extension idea is in the planning concept phase but it is feasible and I understand the need of the program to have the second floor remodel,” Hultin said.

The review process starts with UFFAB, whose purpose is to review construction project proposals that will be funded, in part, by student’s facility fee.

UFFAB proposal meetings occur twice a year, during fall and spring terms. University departments are encouraged to present UFFAB with remodel requests.

“The challenge for the university is to prioritize which projects will happen first,” Hultin said. “We receive input through letters, emails, public forums and, in this case, a petition and the input is valuable to the administration.”

The anatomy department will be attending the UFFAB meeting on Oct. 4 to present a building plan that was created last spring.

Senior Reporter Kate Simmons can be reached at news@collegian.com.