UC Berkeley Says Fire Hazard Shut Down CampusLink

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 25, 2008 - 09:48:00 AM

UC Berkeley shut down the CampusLink terminals at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union last week because of non-compliance with the fire safety code, university officials said last Wednesday. 

CampusLink provides free Internet access to students and visitors on the UC Berkeley campus year-round through a contract with the university. 

Thomas Spivey, associate director of the Associated Students of the University of California Auxiliary—which operates the student union—said the roll-down fire doors under the stairwell of the student union building, where the CampusLink kiosk is located, were not functioning and posed a serious threat in case of a fire. 

“Our fire marshal inspected the area last week and told us the fire doors were not working,” he said, adding that the terminals had been shut down Monday or last Friday. “The equipment was also in poor repair so I had to shut them down.” 

However, according to an interview with CampusLink CEO Bill Hoyer, two of the nine or so CampusLink computers stopped working in August after which the university shut down all the terminals. 

Hoyer said the company had also sent two representatives around Labor Day weekend to fix the broken computers but the university had turned them away. 

“I am not aware of that,” Spivey said. 

Calls to the campus fire marshal Tony Yuen were not returned. 

Hoyer said during his earlier interview that the university had not provided any explanation about why they were shutting down the terminal but had expressed concern about non-students using the computers and vandalism by the homeless near the kiosks. 

Spivey denied that there had been such concerns. 

“It’s free public access for everyone,” he said. 

According to Hoyer, CampusLink, which has centers in 30 public and private college campuses around the country, has never been shut down during its seven years at UC Berkeley. 

Spivey, who took over as associate director of the Associated Students of the University of California Auxiliary in May 2007, said he had noticed fire safety hazards with the kiosk since he joined. 

“CampusLink was going to bring them into compliance but hasn’t done anything yet,” he said. “It’s too dangerous for our students in its current state. Simply fixing the computers will not address the fire problem.”