‘Secret’ SVSU sites explored
March 1, 2010 —
There are some places on campus that everyone knows about: classrooms, the library, the RFOC, the Ryder Center.
We see these places everyday. And, like the sets on a theater stage, these places always are on display, and (almost) always in perfect order.
But what’s going on backstage? This week, the Vanguard takes a look at some of the “secret” places on campus.
Whether preserving an important sculptor’s priceless artworks, storing a world-famous novelist’s personal archives or housing the fiber-optic nerve center for all of the University’s electronic and communications systems, these hidden locales lie out of sight of the public eye but are in fact some of the most interesting places on campus.
The Marshall M. Fredericks Archives
Behind two unassuming beige double-doors in the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum lies a gray, warehouse-like room that houses the Marshall M. Fredericks Archives.
Each day, archivist Melissa Ford sits at her desk in the chilly, cavernous space cataloging and digitizing the late sculptor’s archives — a collection that includes over 200 linear feet of correspondence, illustrations, photographs, and other personal effects.
The room is about 30 feet by 100 feet, with a 30-foot high ceiling. Five doublesided shelving stacks of files, boxes and folders rise 20 feet in the air.
Humidity and and temperature are tightly regulated in the archives, keeping the room colder and drier than average in order to preserve the thousands of documents as safely as possible.
The archives are not open to the public and access is available by appointment to serious researchers only.
In fact, a museum visitor would likely never notice the doors that lead to the archives at all.
Yet behind those doors is perhaps the most complete collection of the papers of an American sculptor housed by a single institution anywhere in the world — making the Marshall M. Fredericks archive room one of the hidden gems of SVSU.
ITS Server Room
Deep within the bowels of Wickes Hall lies a room unlike any other on campus.
Surrounded by rows of towering black boxes, a visitor to this room can easily be disoriented by the whirring fans, spinning tape reels and blinking LED lights that give the whole place the feel of a science-fiction fantasy.
This is the main server room for Information Technology Services. Entering this room is like walking inside of a human-sized computer in which every component has grown in size a thousandfold.
The room is kept dark and at about 77 degrees. Because overheating can cripple all of SVSU’s technological infrastructure, the room has its own dedicated air-conditioning units.
The server room houses 75 physical servers and 60 virtual servers. There are 60 terabytes of disk storage for e-mail and M-drive, and more for Cardinal Direct.
A single cabinet houses the crucial servers of Vmail and Vspace — a mindboggling amount of data.
All the equipment has a backup power supply in case the University loses power.
The server room’s otherworldly feel makes it one of SVSU’s most interesting hidden places.
Zahnow Library Archives
Tucked away in the back of the Zahnow library lies the University archives and special collections room, a collection of rare books, honors theses, faculty dissertations and much more.
The library archives are a cluttered place, but it is an orderly clutter that contains voluminous amounts of information.
The University collection stores documents relating to the entire history of SVSU since before its founding, as well as copies of department documents and University publications.
But perhaps most fascinating are the University’s special collections, featuring the Oral History Collection — 142 audio tapes detailing the lives of local people from the 1920s through the 1960s — and the Flying Melzoras Collection, papers and photos documenting a Saginaw-based trapeze-artist family (currently on display in the Roberta Allen Reading Room).
The special collection also features the Ken Follett archives — 168 boxes containing more than 600,000 pages of documents.
Follett, a British author of historical thrillers, has sold more than 100 million copies of his novels during the past 30 years.
Follett chose to give his archives to the Zahnow Library in recognition of the academic attention brought to his work through the research and criticism of SVSU’s Carlos Ramet.
These special collections make the library archives one of the most fascinating hidden places on campus.
Course Evaluation Drop Box
Perhaps the most hidden of all SVSU locations, this mystery spot on the second floor of Wickes Hall seems to be the most difficult place on all of campus to locate.
Semester after semester, students can be seen wandering through Wickes with dazed expressions on their faces, envelopes in hand, searching for the elusive evaluation drop box.
Adam Spencer, a computer science junior and ITS student employee, said that students continually enter the ITS office to ask where to deposit their evaluations — despite the large arrow outside the office pointing directly to the box.
Though there are many intriguing secret locations on campus, the course evaluation drop box remains the most hidden of all.