Finals are a demanding time for students but this year, the last weeks of the semester will be even more tense due to construction blasting.
Controlled blasting began Thursday at the Science and Engineering Hall site as a means to excavate large rocks. The blasting will occur every morning for the next four to six months, temporarily closing surrounding streets. The University advised residents in adjacent buildings to close windows to prevent smoke and debris from blowing into their rooms.
The University should halt the blasting until after finals so students in Gelman Library and nearby residence halls are not distracted by the loud rumbling and accompanying air horns each morning.
The actual blasts will last only for a few seconds, University spokeswoman Jill Sankey told The Hatchet last week, but the blaring of air horns three times prior to the blasts and once afterward to signal the activity will inevitably be disruptive. The sound might be brief, but as students study late into the night, any unnecessary noises that would disrupt morning sleep should be avoided.
In the Infomail sent to students April 25, the blasting was compared to “more intense vibrations likened to the vibrations associated with a minor earthquake.”
Increasing construction during finals week is a serious issue for students who should be preparing for exams – not planning their study and sleep schedules around clamor.
The initial plan for the future site of the Science and Engineering Hall was approved in the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan, and the University has had ample time since the D.C. Zoning Commission issued an order of approval in July to establish a construction timeline that respects the needs of students. Construction should continue through finals in a benign fashion, but any intensification should wait until after finals end.
This is not the first time students have felt their needs were neglected in the name of improving campus structures. In the fall, the Residence Hall Association voiced concerns about exceptionally boisterous construction in the early morning. The University promised, in response, to regulate loud noise coming from the construction site before 8 a.m. But this minor adjustment has a minimal effect on students.
Many college students study late into the night, and I speak for many when I say waking up at 8 a.m. is far from ideal. Construction at such an early hour contradicts University efforts to foster student success and well-being.
Construction is not a bad thing. State-of-the-art facilities like the future Science and Engineering Hall will boost the University’s academic reputation, but blasting during finals represents a significant oversight on the University’s part.
When considering the University's long-term success, students’ immediate needs – like adequate time for sleep and study – should not be shoved to the wayside.
Justin Peligri is a freshman majoring in political communication.