February 8, 2008

Building Noise, Pollution Wakes Students on West

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Even with the completion of the two remaining houses on West Campus in sight, students have to face ongoing construction for the rest of the school year. Some students have complained about the noise that begins early in the morning, although others living in different areas feel minimal effects of construction, if any.
According to Lauren Nelson ’06, residence hall director of the Gothics, the construction workers abide by a specific work schedule designed to accommodate students. [img_assist|nid=27521|title=Down and dirty|desc=Mud from the construction on West Campus can make walking unpleasant or even hazardous.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“The construction schedule is [set so] that they can start at 8 a.m., but the loud noise, like the ramming, can’t start until 9 a.m.,” Nelson said. “The construction management team and the professional staff members on West Campus work together so that if there are student complaints, then we maintain constant communication with them so that students’ voices are getting heard.”
One such student who has had a hard time with the construction is Becky Reisner ’09, a North Baker resident, who was not aware of this schedule, and therefore had not reported a complaint.
“I always hear noise before 8 a.m., from them starting up the engines or generators, and it’s so annoying. My room isn’t even one of the closer rooms, because [North Baker] is not right next to the construction, but it’s on the construction side of the building. It doesn’t bother people on the other side of the hallway, though,” Reisner said.
The noise varies throughout West Campus. Like Reisner, Mia Douglas ’10, whose window faces construction “can’t sleep in the mornings,” However, others found the construction to be no problem, such as Melissa Yamamoto ’10, who lives next door to Douglas.
“The noise would wake me up the first week of school, but now I can sleep through it. If I come home in the middle of the day, I can sleep. It’s not that bad,” Yamamoto said.
Students are also concerned with the physical conditions of the areas surrounding the construction site, where students walk to and from residence or dining halls. “There are actually paved roads [in the area]. Since they [construction workers] bring in dirt all the time, it does get muddy,” said Lily Chen ’10.
The effect construction will have on the environment also concerns some students.
“One problem with exposed dirt and earth is erosion, so when it rains, it washes out, and when it’sdry and windy, it gets kicked up in the air. Even on nice days, I have to keep my windows shut because the air will smell like diesel or exhaust from the construction machines,” Reisner said. “It’s kind of ironic that they’re building these energy-efficient buildings that are LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environnmental Design]-certified, but in the process, there’s a lot of bad stuff going on, like noise pollution. I wish they would take some measures to reduce the erosion onsite.”
According to Thomas Noel Jr., house assistant dean of Bethe House, the campus facilities staff has tried to address the muddiness.
“They do send a street sweeper through a couple times a day to try to pick up the excess mud, and they’re still working on trying to make things better,” Noel said. “The Facilities staff has done an awesome job of making sure that some of the physical things that can be taken care of are being taken care of.”
Nonetheless, students are aware that the construction is a necessary transition for the West Campus Residential Initiative.
“The construction is sometimes a nuisance, especially when you have to walk through the mud and the dirt, but other times, you just put the long-term goal and vision of the university in perspective and realize that it’s necessary for us to be where we want to be eventually,” said Mark Thompson ’08, R.A. of Mennen Hall.