Construction Woes

by Amie Sugarman | 10/12/04 5:00am

As I slept in my bed in Maxwell early one morning, my room began to vibrate. At first, I incorporated these vibrations into my dream as an earthquake. I quickly awoke, however, to find that the intense tremors through my room were not really a natural disaster; just a friendly wake-up call from the construction workers outside my dorm.

With such an undergraduate housing crunch, one would think that Dartmouth would be eager not only to build new dorms, but to at least utilize all of its current dorm facilities to house homeless students. At a recent construction update meeting, though, Woody Eckels of the Office of Residential Life and Paul Bick of Facilities Management indicated that one of the Treehouses, Pine, is currently used as the central office for the construction managers. The Treehouses are six temporary dorm facilities that were built to help alleviate the housing shortage on campus. Apparently though, one-sixth of the Treehouses are not being used for student housing, but rather for administrative offices. Workers could claim that the Pine is in such close proximity to the construction that students would not be able to live there. Yet, Maxwell, the dorm that I call home, is in the same proximity to the construction as Pine is, so the 68 people who live here endure the same noise as students would if they lived in Pine. Instead of taking up a small dorm's worth of much-needed student beds, it would make more sense if the construction company provided its own on-site office, possibly in the form of trailers, as do most construction companies.

According to Eckels, construction workers are not to begin noisy work before 8 a.m., and since he knows that Dartmouth students tend to stay up late, he informed the construction workers that they could work until 2 a.m. if they so chose. I have noticed, though, that while the construction workers begin work around 7:30 a.m., that they are generally long-gone by the time I return home mid-afternoon. How kind of the Office of Residential Life to allow us to sleep until 8 a.m. during the week, since the vast majority of students do not start classes until significantly later than that time, and therefore would sleep well past it if allowed. Not to worry, though, students will be able to sleep on weekends. Except when construction crews decide to work on Saturdays as well, as we have been warned may happen. Since this construction is taking place on a college campus in the immediate vicinity of a number of dorms, why wouldn't the noisy work to begin around 10 a.m. and end later in the afternoon? Such a more normal work schedule would minimize the inconvenience to the approximately 480 undergrad students who reside in the River.

The current construction was scheduled to break ground last April. However, Eckels stated that the groundbreaking was heavily delayed as a result of "massive cost overruns." Therefore, all of the noisy work that was supposed to take place over the summer when students did not live in the River, is now inconveniencing undergrads far more than necessary. Maybe the construction costs should have been better foreseen so as to avoid the massive delays that have prolonged River residents' hassles.

Enduring a poorly-lit walk through the mud and dirt, under scaffolding, and around secluded corners just to get to Tuck Drive would be somewhat endurable if the construction did not wake me up in the aforementioned scenario nearly every single weekday morning. But the school has put little thought into minimizing the extreme inconveniences for undergrad students who bear the brunt of the hassles of this project.