As the Law School community prepares to leave our current home and move into a new facility, it seems appropriate to pause and recall some of the memorable events that have taken place in Sensenbrenner Hall over the years. Professor Jack Kircher shares the first of what we hope will be many faculty memories recounting the various classroom surprises, distinguished visitors, and construction oddities associated with our present surroundings. These memories will ensure that Sensenbrenner Hall lives on forever in our hearts.
My first memory of Sensenbrenner Hall goes back to my time as a 1L. At that time, the library occupied all of the third floor, the second floor had two large classrooms and a moot court room, the first floor had two large classrooms, and the administrative offices (Dean, etc.) occupied the space now used by Admissions. During the 2d semester of my first year, we were in our Contracts class during the early afternoon in a second floor classroom that occupied all of the east side of that floor (now Rooms 204 and 210). It must have been Springtime, as I remember that the windows in the room were open (they opened back then). Unbeknownst to us, Marquette University had just announced that the school would no longer play varsity football beginning the following fall. As we sat there in class, discussing some arcane Contracts issue, we slowly began to hear the chant “we want football” coming from the west. The chant grew louder and louder. It turns out that the students were marching on O’Hara Hall next door. The noise grew so loud that our professor, Calvin Corman, abruptly called off the class. Professor Corman was a somewhat timid man, and many of us thought that he cancelled class because he feared for his own safety.
My second memory of Sensenbrenner Hall is from the time that the more recent addition to Sensenbrenner was opened. I was a member of the faculty by then. Prior to the new addition, there was no elevator in the building and there was no atrium. After teaching my first class of the semester in Rm. 239, I began to walk down the atrium stairs from the second floor to the first floor on the way to my office. During my walk I discovered that the elevator shaft overhung the north side of the stairway. If one was walking down the stairs, and was over six feet tall, his or her head could easily come into contact with the shaft. Instead of going to my office, I immediately went to see Dean Boden. I announced to him that the atrium, in my opinion, contained a clear violation of Wisconsin’s “Safe Place Statute” [Wis. Stat. sec.101.11(1)]. That statute requires every owner of a public building or place of employment to make sure that the location is as safe as its nature permits. The statute has been held to impose a higher duty than mere reasonable care. Warnings won’t suffice and changes must be made to the structure if they are possible. Following my visit to Dean Boden, the contractor returned to the building and the elevator shaft was reshaped near the stairway. Problem solved. Statute followed.
Do you have a special memory of Sensenbrenner Hall? What will you remember the most about the building or an event that took place within its walls? Share your memories as a comment to this post or as a message on the Marquette University Law School Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MarquetteLaw .