A couple of weeks ago when the fences were put up between the Voorhees Computing Center and Lally Hall, I wasn’t all worked up about the construction going on in that quadrangle of campus. Sure, it would mean waking up five minutes earlier to walk the longer way to class (or being five minutes late on those mornings I couldn’t pull myself out of bed), but it was going to prettify the campus so it was all worth it—not a big deal at all.
But this was before the construction actually had started. On a Monday schedule (or Tuesday for this week), I have back-to-back classes in Lally—first at 8 am on the first floor and then at 10 am in the basement. Although from the first floor the construction seems to be a loud but not completely distracting pounding and whirring of machinery, the basement turned out to be a completely different story.
From this wonderful basement, the construction becomes an earthquake shaking the classroom—incredibly disruptive to the class, one could say. Since the room itself is technically half underground, each pounding of metal into the ground near the building sends the room into a seizure: the desks rattle and the projection screens shake back and forth as well, making it very difficult to read the presentation that is put together by the professor. Forget trying to watch the movie—between the noise and vibration from the construction, paying attention to the movie was quite a task. Each of the four-per-second pounds onto the exposed metal in the ground makes the headache one has from trying to learn the material in a class throb even more. You can barely hear questions or answers given by soft-spoken classmates.
Sorry to you poor students studying in the library—making the campus attractive is more important than getting a good grade on your IEA exam. Oh, and for you archie students in Greene—it’s all part of your architecture curriculum to see (and hear for hours at a time) a construction project at work. Even from my class over in Ricketts, I can hear the construction forging ahead.
So it seems that although we are making our campus more beautiful in the months down the road (ignore the piles of upturned earth and piles of dirt there now, prospective students; it will indeed look nice eventually), it is at the expense of our world-class Rensselaer education.
At last week’s Pizza with the Cabinet, Vice President for Administration Claude Rounds stated that the construction is aimed to be as undisruptive to students as possible, but much of that discussion was geared towards the fences blocking pathways on campus. Luckily, Rounds did address the lack of a pathway behind the JEC (which is because this is where a bulk of the underground work will be done) and when the construction is planned to be completed (by the end of the semester).
Hopefully, something can be done to adjust the schedule of construction so that students are not put at a disadvantage with their studies. Perhaps the schedule during which the headache-inducing pounding is done can be reworked to avoid the busiest class blocks, such as 10 am and 2 pm. Then, during these times, work such as digging or plowing (which are both much less noisy) could be done. While not ideal in terms of efficiency or timing, it would certainly improve disruptions to classes. In addition, this construction is unique in that it’s not near residence halls where students will be sleeping; construction could theoretically start at earlier hours of the morning or on weekends when fewer students are on campus.
Regardless of how the construction schedule is changed, however, it should definitely be altered so as not to present yet another hurdle for students to jump over in getting the most of their Rensselaer education.