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San Francisco law school floods. Student says problems keep happening

UC College of the Law San Francisco | Google Street View

UC College of the Law San Francisco, formerly known as UC Hastings, flooded Monday, closing a building and canceling classes for droves of students, who say they were told roughly 45 minutes before classes started. 

The Standard reviewed emails from the school to students that show they were emailed at 8:23 a.m. Monday. 

The flooding was caused by a surge in rainwater that entered the water lines going into the Cotchett Law Center building at 333 Golden Gate Ave., causing the school’s reclaimed water tank and sump pump to overflow. The elevators and building’s lower level were flooded, according to an email sent to students Tuesday afternoon by Rhiannon Bailard, chief operating officer of UC Law SF. The building was completed in August 2020 and cost $55 million, according to the law school’s website.

In-person classes and events held on floors one through five are planned to resume Tuesday, but flooding caused damage to the four classrooms in the school’s lower level that will require carpet and sheetrock replacement. Those classrooms are estimated to reopen on April 10, and classes usually held in those rooms will be held virtually in the meantime.

Technicians are staying on-site to remove water from the elevators, which are expected to be operational by Thursday.

A UC Law SF student spoke to The Standard on the condition of anonymity about what they say are “numerous technical problems this year.” 

“Many of the classrooms are having tech issues like no microphones or no functioning audio. Classes are big, 80 to 90 people, so it’s very difficult and sometimes impossible to hear the professors without a microphone,” the student said.

The tech issues and flooding happened after a controversial name change at the law school on Jan. 1. Alumni and several descendants of Serranus Hastings, for whom the school was originally named, sued the school for allegedly violating an agreement between the State of California and the law school that said the institution would always be called “Hastings College of the Law.”

Hastings was a California Supreme Court Justice who founded the school in 1878, but an investigation by the school found that he had allegedly orchestrated the killings of approximately 300 Native Americans.

“I’m sure the costs associated with the name change are huge and considering all of the everyday issues at this school, it just seems like a waste of resources,” the student said.

“With the flooding, we received an email 45 minutes before classes started. Some students and faculty members commute long distances to school, so it’s inconvenient for them to tell us 45 minutes before class starts that our building is flooded and we can’t access it,” the student continued.

UC Law SF was contacted for comment.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at garrett@sfstandard.com