By now, we’ve all interacted with on-Grounds construction in some shape or form. Whether it be taking the long way to get to Clem or walking past the barriers on McCormick Road, construction is almost everywhere you look on Grounds. Yet, despite attempts by the University to make construction undisruptive, like putting up signs and warnings, the reality is anything but. The construction on Grounds is disruptive and unfair to many students — but there are things the University can do to mitigate the distress caused by construction projects.
I live in the International Residential College — construction has been happening nonstop since I moved into the IRC in January. For a while, construction stayed on the south side of Ivy Road, closest to the Ivy/Emmet garage, but it has since crept over to include the north side of the road as the Emmet/Ivy Corridor project started construction on the north bank on April 4. If I were to throw a rock out my window, I could hit a piece of construction equipment without even aiming. While plenty of construction is certainly to be expected at a university of this size, the University has planned it in such a way that negatively impacts student life.
In my experience, loud work starts at 8 a.m. every morning, so I am awakened by the sound of heavy equipment, tree removal and excavation. This means that I am up and awake even if I don’t have class in the morning. The work continues until 7 p.m., which makes it hard to attend online office hours or study in my room during most of the day. The noise is so distracting that it’s difficult to concentrate. The construction also makes the University less physically accessible as a whole, with construction causing several accessibility issues, like equipment blocking access to buildings on Grounds. These accessibility issues ultimately make buildings on Grounds less safe, as access to both entrances and exits would be dangerous in an emergency situation. Accessibility issues also make Grounds more challenging to navigate for students with disabilities or injuries, with the blocking of sidewalks and pathways.
There is no sign that construction will be stopping anytime soon. In an email sent out to IRC residents, we were notified that the Emmet/Ivy Corridor would take five months to complete. This means that construction will continue until after the start of classes next semester. Even during final exams, the construction and disruption will continue. The University only negotiated quiet days between May 4-6, so noise will be present even as students living in the IRC try to study for their exams.
The University should be more mindful of construction projects near dorms in the future. Long projects like the Alderman Library are inevitably going to take years and are noticeable by almost every student, but projects closer to dorms require a more sensitive approach by the University as those projects can interfere with sleeping and studying.
While construction is important to improving the University, it must not come at the expense of student life. The easiest remedy to these problems caused by the construction would be to schedule projects near dorms over the summer, when occupancy is at its lowest. However, with projects taking months and sometimes years to complete, that might not always be possible. If the University cannot schedule construction projects near dorms over the summer, when the on Grounds population is at its lowest, then it should possibly consider giving a partial refund or discounting room and board for students living near these construction projects. It is unfair to charge the same price for those who live near on-Grounds constructions as those who live disturbance-free. A partial refund or prorated discount will make pricing more equitable and compensate for some of the stress caused by construction happening so close to dorms. In addition, the University could also shorten the times that construction is allowed. For instance, only allowing construction from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. would significantly reduce the disruptions that students experience in the morning and allow for better sleep and uninterrupted studying.
Something must be done about the construction on Grounds — it disrupts student life and accessibility. The University cannot disturb the routines of students and make their dorms less comfortable with loud construction without offering any mitigation plans. There are several potential solutions to this problem and the University needs to implement them. The University has the resources but it just needs to utilize those resources to reduce disruption.
Riley Lorgus is a Viewpoint Writer for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.