U film society loses its venue in Nicholson Hall

Kamariea Forcier

The University Film Society will lose one of its two theater spaces when administrators decommission the Nicholson Hall auditorium June 14.
Administrators decided to close the auditorium to the public after ongoing concerns about building safety were exacerbated by flakes falling from the auditorium ceiling. Until the space is officially vacated, administrators have posted danger signs inside the theater and have put plastic sheets over several seating areas inside the room.
“There’s really nothing to (the flakes),” said Bob Anderson, the film society’s projectionist at Nicholson Hall. “They’ve got danger signs, but it’s really nothing more than potato chips of plastic.”
Anderson said he hasn’t seen any recent signs of debris falling from the ceiling but said it might be hard to tell since the original flakes have not yet been cleaned up.
The film society, which has occupied the space since the 1960s, plans to continue showing films at the Bell Theater, located inside the Bell Museum of Natural History.
While the film society has no immediate plans to relocate its screen space, representatives said that closing the Nicholson auditorum at this time isn’t burdensome.
“We usually shut down Nicholson in the middle of June, until fall quarter starts because it’s too hot. There’s no air conditioning inside there,” said Toby Sauer, director of publicity for the society.
“Nobody’s ever complained about stuff falling on them during the films,” said Bob Strong, assistant director of the film society.
The society was notified last week that it must give up the theater space when the spring quarter officially ends. The University has not yet found new space for the film society.
“I think the U’s been extremely cooperative,” Sauer said. “There’s a lot of different options being looked at — we have a three-month grace period right now, so we won’t have those answers until fall.”
Karen Le Bon, a planner for Facilities Management, said the building needs to be vacated while the University decides what to do with the building.
“Whether we choose to reuse it or at some point to get rid of it, we need to get the people out of it,” she said, “Because if we do intend to keep it, we need to renovate it. And we can’t do that with people in it.”
Administrators recently moved two departments from Nicholson Hall because maintenance problems were causing health problems among building employees.
The Institute of International Studies and Programs and the China Center were relocated to the Mayo building because mildew associated with water damage from a leaking basement was causing respiratory problems in some workers.