The sites and sounds outside University dorm windows mostly are pleasant. Lawnies have the lush Lawn, Hereford residents have Charlottesville's serene hills and Brown College boasts proximity to central Grounds. But this semester, first-year Alderman residents look outside and see construction.
First-year College student Tim Henderson peers out his window and looks directly into the construction site of a new dorm. With no air conditioning during the sweltering month of September, he has little choice but keep his window open. This allows the sights, smells and sounds of the construction site to enter his room.
"I don't have to worry about sleeping in too much. It seems like they are out there at 6 a.m.," Henderson said. "They always have a truck backing up, and the trucks make that backing up sound. They go beep, beep, beep. I'm going to start confusing that with my alarm clock."
The new dorm, which has yet to be named, is being built behind Dunnington House. Construction began in May 1998 and stopped when the last school year began. Construction resumed this summer and will continue until the project's completion in the fall of 2000.
"A lot of the heavy work was done during the summer," said John Griffin, associate director of housing operations.
According to Griffin and Asst. Dean of Students John Foubert, construction at the new dorm begins at 8 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m.
"The construction workers have agreed to start their work at 8 a.m.," Foubert said. "That might be a mild inconvenience to some students, but in the long run it's in the best interest of the University."
Some students said they aren't affected by the construction.
"I am hearing the trucks moving around. It's a small concern, but it's not really affecting me," said first-year College student Brian Van Reet, a Maupin resident. "I'm sure if you lived closer, it would be really bad."
First-year College student Catherine Cockerham agreed.
"If I was in the dorm next to it, I would be mad, she said."
Some students agree with Henderson and said construction begins earlier than 8 a.m.
"I had my alarm set for 8:30 a.m., but the reverse sirens on the trucks woke me up at 6 a.m.," first-year Engineering student Brandon Rogers said. "That was really getting on my nerves."
Rogers, who lives in Tuttle House, said he did not know that the construction would be next to his dorm. If he had been told, he said he might have chosen to live elsewhere.
According to Griffin, housing operations told first years about the construction in a first-year newsletter and during summer orientation. The article in the newsletter described the construction and its location.
While Henderson and Rogers concede that they may have been told about the construction, they believe more should have been said.
"I would have liked to have known," Henderson said. "It wasn't something that was made obvious to me."
He said though the noise wakes him up in the morning, the ruckus has not been a hindrance to his studying yet.
"I don't see making any changes in my study habits because of the noise," he added. "I can always go to the common area in my suite."
The new dorm might be the closest and loudest annoyance for first years, but it is not the only construction near the Alderman Road dormitories.
The Scott Stadium expansion project began at the end of last football season and will continue until the Cavalier's first home game Sept. 18. At the end of this season, work will resume until the project's completion by the first game in the fall of 2000.
Other projects along Alderman and Whitehead roads are close to first-year dorms. Griffin said the University has nothing to do with the construction along Alderman Road, which is a utility company project to install ground fibers. Griffin said he believes this work will be completed by the week's end.
The construction around Scott Stadium and has not been as much of a noise problem as an eyesore, students said.
"I noticed the construction at Scott Stadium during orientation," said Michele Ho, a first-year Engineering student who lives in Fitzhugh House, across from the stadium. "I thought it was just for the summer. It's annoying to see it everyday, especially on a nice day. The site is just really dirty."
Rogers agreed and said dirt becomes problematic in the rain.
"Every construction site I have ever seen has looked dusty," he said. "There is dust everywhere. If it ever rains, I won't take the shortcut to the Chemistry Building by the greenhouse."
Safety is also a concern.
"As long as students stay out of the construction sites, students should be safe," Griffin said. "The equipment has to stay in the site, and the sites are fenced in areas."
While most students feel safe with the construction sites, Henderson said sometimes his dorm feels like a war zone.
"The workers seem nice," he said. "They wave at us, but the other day there were about five seconds where it felt like the roof was about ready to collapse. Something was scraping against the roof. It made me want to cover my head."
Ultimately, first years can take little action to alleviate construction.
"I don't think they should decrease our housing fees because of what we have to deal with, but they should thank us in some way for coping with what's going on. Maybe they should send us all fruit baskets or something," Rogers joked.
Along with learning to adjust to roommates, first years will just have to adapt to construction, Foubert said.
"Sometimes when you are living in a home and a neighbor decides to build an addition, you just have to cope with that," he said.
"If this is the worst thing that happens to me all year, then it has been a good year," he said. "It's just a part of my first-year experience at U.Va"