Residents of the 1959 E Street residence hall who are fed up with noise from a nearby construction site met with GW officials Friday evening, demanding a full refund for their housing costs due to what they described as unlivable conditions.
University officials told the students that the contractors are in compliance with D.C. laws regarding noise levels, making it almost impossible for the University to intervene in the situation. The construction site is not a University project, and is being run by an outside group developing a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.
Students interviewed said they were unsatisfied with the University’s response, adding that they plan to ask GW to restore living conditions in the building or else give them a full refund of housing costs, which in 1959 E Street can run more than $12,600.
Jonathan Nahill, a junior coordinating the effort, said he had 50 signatures on the petition by Sunday morning, and plans to send it to Dean of Students Peter Konwerski.
Konwerski said the University is working to address student concerns.
“We remain engaged in addressing students concerns,” Konwerski said in a statement. “We will continue to listen, provide mechanisms for students in halls surrounding this project to report complaints, and we will continue to advocate for their concerns.”
Some residents have called HITT Contracting’s hotline to voice their concerns and have also e-mailed the Residence Hall Association to say they are awakened by jackhammering. Construction, which started about two weeks ago, will continue through the spring of 2012.
Mike Tyler, a spokesman for the hotel developers, declined to say if construction hours would be adjusted due to the complaints.
“We have a permit to work there, we understand their concerns and we will try to do our best,” Tyler said.
A representative of HITT Contracting confirmed that the company has received complaints from students but declined to share the exact number of complaints.
Students met Friday evening with officials from GW Housing Programs and Darrell Darnell, the senior associate vice president for safety and security.
Brittany Floyd, a junior and resident of 1959 E Street, asked at the meeting why students were not informed about the construction before moving in, since the project had been in the works prior to students signing up to live in the residence hall.
“If we were informed none of us would be in this situation right now, it is the school’s ethical obligation to let us know,” Floyd said.
Darnell told students that the University didn’t know until this summer that work was set to begin in the fall, adding that steel rods underneath the parking lot have to be removed, and the only way to do this is with a jackhammer.
“This is the worst part, but the noise will go down as soon as the steel rods are removed,” Darnell said.
Vernon Williams, the assistant director of housing, said students should be willing to compromise and try to adjust their schedules to the construction, adding that students can’t move to other GW residence halls because 99 percent of the halls are full.
“We live in the city, there will always be construction. Try to think logically about the requests you are making, but I understand where you all are coming from,” Williams said.
Banu Gumusoglu, a junior, said she was concerned about the impact of the construction noise on grades and finals.
“We are students, we are just trying to study and graduate,” she said.
This article appeared in the November 8, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.