Gelman construction disrupts classes

Disruptive construction noise from ongoing renovation of Gelman Library’s sixth floor has forced the relocation of some classes that are held there to Lisner Hall.

But University and library administrators say they have not heard complaints about classes that have been disrupted by the noise.

Peter Rollberg, associate professor of Slavic studies, is moving his classes across campus after making repeated complaints to University administrators about construction noise.

Rollberg, whose office and classes are on the sixth floor, said the noise often is unbearable.

“There was loud hammering in the background that made my words incomprehensible,” Rollberg said.

Rollberg said his classes, which require listening comprehension, were constantly disrupted by noise from construction in the adjacent room.

Several students said the learning environment in sixth-floor classrooms was disrupted.

Communications major Allison Caplan described the situation as “horrible, especially during the night classes.”

Ali Foster, also a communications major, said she faces the noise in her communications classes because they all are located on the sixth floor.

Richard Robin, chair of the Slavic studies department, said he brought the problem to the University’s attention because classes in the German and Slavic languages and literature department predominantly are held on the sixth floor. Administrators have apologized for the noise, but no reduction in noise has occurred, he said.

“The University has decided that for these number of months that construction must go on,” Robin said. “Classes just don’t matter that much.”

Robin said he addressed the issue with Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for academic, planning and special projects. But Linebaugh said he does not recall anyone specifically talking to him about construction noise problems.

University Librarian Jack Siggins said “absolutely no complaints” about the noise on the sixth floor have been brought to his attention.

“Within the constraints of available classroom space and expressed student and faculty preferences, we made a good faith effort to schedule classes in places where they would be least affected by noise,” Linebaugh said.

He said the registrar’s office weighs teacher and student preferences for class times against room availability on campus.

Linebaugh said moving construction projects to nights and weekends is not feasible because the construction period would need to be extended.

“We try whenever possible to do these projects over the summer, but we simply can’t do everything during the summer,” he said.

Siggins said construction noise would not be a problem if students and faculty were more flexible in their preferences for certain class times.

Rollberg said GW administrators told him the construction would not negatively affect sixth-floor classes that were already scheduled.

Rollberg said because construction takes place during class time, “it is very important that students are satisfied that they’re getting the kind of education they’re paying for.”

He said he thinks the administration owes a “serious apology” to students who take classes on the sixth floor, because their education was compromised as a result of the construction process. Rollberg said communication between administrators, professors and students should be stronger during future building projects.

Linebaugh said students are not losing out on their educational experience because of the construction.

He and Siggins said they believe future benefits from new facilities will outweigh current inconveniences.

The first phase of the construction will provide new stacks for science materials by mid-January, said Andrea Stewart, director of library administration.

Group study rooms, individual study carrels, a staff area, a conference room and a computer instruction room also will be completed in the next two months. Stewart said she expects all sixth-floor construction to be completed by June 1999.

“I’m convinced that the students will be very happy,” Siggins said.

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