Residence hall wiring disturbs students

Residence hall technology upgrades disrupted students during the final weeks of the semester, despite attempts by the administration to minimize the disturbance from construction, Residence Hall Association members said.

Academic concerns induced the RHA executive board to withhold its endorsement of the University’s proposal to prevent installation of cable and Ethernet connections in residence hall rooms during final exams and reading period, said RHA president Justin Lavella.

RHA rejected the proposal because work would be done in hallways when students needed to study, he said.

Lavella said in an earlier interview that the RHA’s decision not to endorse the plan did not affect the University’s decision.

Construction continued in Munson, Thurston and Fulbright halls through April 29. But the administration limited work to hallways from April 30 to May 10. Work in rooms began again May 11.

“(The University) should not do this during finals,” said Kristen-Marie Kaczynski, a Fulbright Hall resident and RHA national communication coordinator. “They are jeopardizing the one thing we are here for – education.”

But Lavella said the RHA recognizes that the administration tried to take the necessary steps to reduce the detriment to students.

“Looking back, (administrators) kept their promise,” Lavella said. “I take my hat off to them.”

Lavella said the administration agreed to concessions demanded by RHA, like providing extra study rooms in the residence halls and Gelman Library, and limiting the extent of construction.

Michael Peller, executive director of Student and Academic Support Administrative Services, said the University tried to handle the situation by cooperating with residence directors and assistants, and listening to RHA demands.

Construction workers were sensitized to student needs, Peller said. For example, to fit student schedules, work began at University work sites at 9 a.m., as opposed to 6 a.m., when construction shifts usually begin, he said.

“As I watched the work, I thought the construction workers showed reasonable professionalism,” Peller said.

But Kaczynski said when work began in rooms again May 11, she was “banished from her room,” and spent the day in a friend’s room to avoid the construction.

Peller said he has received only a handful of complaints.

“At this point, making a complaint would just delay the process,” Kaczynski said.

Peller said installation of new electrical, cable and phone connections is scheduled to be finished by the fall semester.

The University next will begin work on Mitchell, Madison and Riverside halls, he said.

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