Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor
Criminology professors at the University of Lynchburg have been relocated to Schewel Hall after a tree fell on the Criminology House during a severe weather event on Sunday, July 21. According to Keith Smith, instructor of criminology, “It was one of the microburst-like storms with intense winds and tornado watches.”
Jena Wilkinson, a sophomore criminology major, said, “I found out over summer break that the crim house had been hit from a friend. She is an ambassador and she sent me a picture of the house. I was surprised at how extensive the damage was.”
“We found out that we could not enter the building and they were looking for spots for us,” explained Professor of Criminology and Department Chair of Criminology, Dr. Kimberly McCabe.
With the start of the new semester, they are still working in these temporary offices. Dr. McCabe indicated that nothing was currently being done to fix the Criminology House.
Currently, there is no estimated date of when the house will be ready or if the professors will have to be relocated to another building after being in Schewel.
“We have no date about when we will be able to move back, or if [we will be able to move back]. We are waiting to hear what will be the decision,” said Smith.
Additionally, there were rumors that no progress is being made because the house has asbestos, but Smith and Dr. McCabe said the rumors are not true.
“They did a test and it was less than 1% asbestos found, which is very good for a house of its age,” said Smith.
Though Dr. McCabe said Schewel is “nice,” she explained that there are many disadvantages to not being in the criminology house.
“I have had none of my supplies or notes from other classes because they are in my other office. We had a conference room in the criminology house and I met there with my intern class. Now there is no meeting area and I have to find an area for the class.” She went on to say, “We are just not able to meet with our students the way we did.”
Smith added, “Sometimes, I go to do something and I realize what I need is still in my old office. A lot of my advisee files are online but I also had notes that I’d written down on paper. As the semester started, it has been hard getting access to that stuff.”
Besides the inconvenience of being in temporary offices, both professors miss the overall atmosphere and features of the criminology house.
“I hate that we lost our porch. We are always at our computers and it was so nice to sit on the porch, talk over a cup of coffee, and get some fresh air. It was also more inviting for students to stop by there than to try to look for us here,” said Smith.
“What I miss most about the criminology house is the environment it provides for working with our students,” said Dr. McCabe.
Wilkinson added, “Last year I visited the criminology house to speak with my professors or go to retake a test. While I only visited a couple times, I knew that if I had questions, the crim house would be my go-to place.”
Criminology professors remain uncertain about their future relocation.
“I would like to know if we have to move again,” said Dr. McCabe. Ultimately, she wants a permanent space again for the criminology professors.
“I want to go to the cybersecurity building. It has already been renovated. It is empty and ready to go. To me, that would be the easiest move. It is probably not as geographically convenient, but at least it is ready to go and it is empty,” said Dr. McCabe.
Overall, the criminology house is missed by both the professors and students.
“With criminology being the second largest major next to nursing, the students deserve a place. [The criminology house] provided a sense of community for the professors and students. It was a place that was more conducive to some of the informal conversations we had. And [I miss] the porch. It kills me,” said Smith.
Wilkinson added, “My professor this semester is not located in the Crim House, and it makes it more difficult to find his office when I need to. I miss having an area where I knew I could find my adviser and professors. There were multiple offices located in the building, so it is difficult to know where to go now.”