Campus mysteries, part 1

Part one of The Collegian’s investigation of strange, secret spots on campus

For a school that is a little more than 96 years old, Fresno State definitely holds its share of campus secrets.

“Students may not ever see them, but a lot of the buildings have large basements,” Nancy Rodriguez of Facilities Planning said.

Rodriguez, an administrative support coordinator, has worked on campus for more than 30 years.

“I used to work near the McLane building a long time ago. That’s when I found out about the underground area,” Rodriguez said.

This “underground area” can be found via a nondescript door next to the south entrance of McLane Hall room 121. But it is always locked.

According to Rodriguez there’s a second entrance in the alleyway between the H and J wings of McLane Hall; a little more secretive, but not any easier to access. Behind a small chain link fence is a mechanical lift used for moving machinery underground.

Drew Tudman, a student who worked for Teaching, Learning and Technology services last summer, has experienced the underground area firsthand.

“It’s a big boiler room,” said Tudman, “I think.”

Tudman, 23, a senior graphic design major, had to dismantle old broadband Internet equipment all over campus, some of which was located in the basement.

“It’s a very bizarre and dusty place. There are huge air ducts the size of doors that you have to walk around to get anywhere. And there are dark shafts that must span the whole length of the building,” Tudman said.

Tudman wasn’t sure if the boiler was still being used, but Facilities Planning says it is not.

Deepak Mahajan, a project manager for Facilities Planning, has never visited the basement, but knows all about what goes on down there.

“Not much, it’s just a mechanical room. It dates back to many years ago when each building had its own heating unit,” Mahajan said.

So is it possible there are other basements and boilers on campus? Yes, according to Mahajan.

“But I don’t believe they are used, at least they shouldn’t be. The campus has central chilling and heating now.
Everything comes from the Plant Operations area,” Mahajan said.

Plant Operations are located directly underneath the iconic water tower on the Barstow Avenue edge of campus.

Michael Feist, a staff member at Teaching, Learning and Technology services, has worked on campus for 26 years and has been down to the McLane Hall basement many times.

“It’s like a maze,” Feist said. “It’s definitely a interesting place to walk around and explore.”

Feist acted as a supervisor when the broadband Internet equipment was removed from the basement.

“I actually remember seeing a desk in one of the corners,” Feist said. “It’d be a strange place to work, but somebody must conduct business of some sort down there.”

Students should watch their step next time they’re in McLane Hall. One wrong turn into one unlocked door and they might just find themselves in a very strange place.

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