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UTEP Fox Fine Arts Building woes

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SalmaPaola Baca
“Esfera Cuántica Tlahtolli” in front of Fox Fine Arts.

One of the most recognizable buildings on UTEP campus, the Fox Fine Arts building, home to many fine arts students. The building, famous for its frequent concerts, has been facing cosmetic problems created by a water leak. While this does not pose a health and safety concern, this news appeared on FitFam, an account on Instagram, relaying to the city the current state of the building.  

For students who often reside in this building, the issue of the building is a repeated sight. Yet with the news reaching people outside of UTEP, there is a commotion amongst the community to fix these issues. 

Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer, Mark McGurk, mentions how the facilities management and environmental health and safety management is comprised of approximately 100 workers. These workers tend to the university, ranging from cutting the grass to fixing an HVAC system.  

Tending issues around campus, they respond to work orders given by the UTEP community. Issues that have health life/safety consequences take priority over reported cosmetic issues.  

“Cosmetics basically just make our campus better, but they don’t necessarily affect the operation (of the building),” McGurk said. “We put our efforts into (fixing) the operations, and when we have the time, we do the cosmetic things.” 

McGurk describes the current state of the building with water dripping down ceiling tiles, which is an unpleasant site for students and faculty.  

“Underneath the ramp (of the Fox Fine Arts Building), the water is dripping through, and then that hits the ceiling tiles, and the tiles look like they are falling,” McGurk said. “If the tile is falling that is a health/safety issue, if it’s just the water there is staining the tiles, that’s a cosmetic issue.” 

Regardless of whether the issue is cosmetic, much of the UTEP community does not place work orders or report issues delaying the process for them to get fixed.  

“The problem is that people see something every day and ‘Oh they haven’t fixed it’ and never report it, we may not know about it and that’s really been the issue,” McGurk said. “It’s really helpful when people report the problems.” 

Theatre, dance and music majors share the Fox Fine Arts building to practice, perform, etc. The age of the building is acknowledgeable to UTEP student Gustavo Garcia Jr as the building was finished in April 1974, making the building 49 years old. 

“First of all, it’s old,” Garica Jr. said. “I’m sure like a decade or two ago, it was like the newest building, like the hottest building out here but it’s not that anymore.” 

Garcia Jr. mentions problems throughout the building that he encounters every day as a commercial music major. 

“There’s no water. The only way you can get water is literally through the recital hall, which is closed half of the time, or like the second floor they just fixed not too long ago,” Garcia Jr. said. “There’s no sink, there’s no water fountain on the fourth floor, (water fountain) doesn’t work on the third floor. On the first floor there is a broken pipe right there, so like no water whatsoever. It smells like sewage there too sometimes.” 

Ahleah Davis-Wilson, who is a musical theatre major at UTEP, was in shock finding the Fox Fine Arts building on social media. Getting used to the scenery in the Fox Fine Arts building, when Davis-Wilson found that the building was receiving attention from those who do not attend UTEP, she was in a state of contention. 

“I remember seeing that and I was like ‘Woah’,” Davis-Wilson said. “Like it’s one thing when you see it every day, but then for someone who’s not there every day to talk about ‘Oh this is what this looks like’, it’s like ‘Oh, well we know that, but it’s good that everybody knows that now.” 

The problems found within the Fox Fine Arts building do not pose an immediate risk for students. However, fine arts students would like to see these issues fixed soon.   

“I hope it gets fixed, just because we are there all the time and there’s so many things in the Fox Fine Arts, it’s not just theatre,” Davis-Wilson said. “There’s theatre, dance, music, everything is in there, so I do hope that one day somebody fixes it and not just so it looks pretty but just so that it is workable and usable.”  

Cosmetic problems within a building are common for many schools and businesses. UTEP will hopefully address these issues within a timely manner because the issues are not life threatening. But students who interact daily with the Fox Fine Arts Building would like to see their building more inviting. 

Sofia Sierra is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]   

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About the Contributors
Sofia Sierra, Staff Reporter
Sofia is a junior studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is a staff reporter at The Prospector. After graduation, she hopes to work outside of El Paso to continue to grow as a writer.
SalmaPaola Baca, Photographer
SalmaPaola Baca is a senior at UTEP majoring in engineering innovation and leadership with a concentration and minor in civil engineering and an emphasis in computer science. Her passion for photography enables her to be photographer at The Prospector. While a full-time student, she freelances while planning to grow her platform through travel photography. After graduating, she wants to pursue a master’s degree in architecture while working on her photography simultaneously.
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