Keith Osentoski: Consider today’s Colonials

I lived in Thurston my freshman year so needless to say, I’m used to noisy places.

In fact, whether it’s a Presidential motorcade rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue or an ambulance en route to GW Hospital, campus can sometimes be a pretty loud place.

But students are growing increasingly frustrated with a new source of noise on campus: construction.

Students living near the construction are jolted awake early in the morning by jackhammers and bulldozers, and they can’t escape persistent construction sounds for about 12 hours a day. This construction creates dust and inconveniences that hinder both living and learning on campus.

The Science and Engineering Hall construction, for example, is but feet away from Gelman Library and Phillips and Rome halls. It also touches three residence halls.

This puts the University in a difficult – and somewhat awkward – position of balancing current students’ pain with the gain future students will enjoy. The University has taken steps to mitigate the concern by offering earplugs to students and by waiting until later in the morning to begin construction, University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.

Later, meaning 8 a.m. – only one hour later than the earliest permitted construction time in the District.

But ask anyone who lives in JBKO, Fulbright or Munson, and you’ll soon learn that work that is “not especially noisy,” as Sherrard characterized the construction, is still pretty loud. This traditional time frame may work in other parts of the city, but on a college campus, 8 a.m. is simply too early.

Sherrard said the University is beginning to discuss with contractors how to restrict the most disruptive noise during finals week. But is any construction noise really acceptable while students are studying for finals?

The answer, of course, is no.

And all of this falls on the cusp of continuingly rising housing rates. Despite the housing being excruciatingly inconvenient, costs still rose 3 percent last year. Those having to deal with these inconveniences are paying a record amount to do so.

In short, as the University continues its rapid – but exciting – transformation, concerns like these will certainly arise. And all we are asking is that the University better address them.

The University should cease construction during reading days and finals week, freeze housing rates – rather than increase them – in affected buildings during construction years and do more to adjust the time frame of the work itself.

At the end of the day, many students are very excited about the new buildings coming to campus, primarily because we know the finished product will be great. The building we go to now to enjoy Whole Foods, Roti, Circa and The Avenue Apartments was but a giant hole when I first came to GW two years ago.

While we wish the future Class of 2020 the best of luck on finals and great residence halls, we are rightfully concerned with what’s happening now.

Keith Osentoski, a junior majoring in political communication,

is a Hatchet columnist.

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