February 2, 2010

Curbing inconvenience

Administration should improve planning and communication of campus construction projects

In a move to comply with accessibility requirements, the administration began renovating sidewalks around campus over winter break. The construction, which has closed pathways outside Regenstein Library, Reynolds Club, and the 5700 block of Woodlawn, among many other places, has complicated travel at a time when pedestrians must frequently contend with snow-covered terrain and freezing temperatures. Although any large-scale sidewalk renovation is bound to be an inconvenience, the administration should have taken greater care to minimize the headaches associated with a construction project of this kind.

There were several steps the University should have taken to blunt the impact of the renovations, the most prudent of which would have been to complete construction over the summer when far fewer people would have been affected. The fact that several campus locations, including the dramatically inclined walkway under Cobb Gate, failed to comply with accessibility codes was perfectly clear back in August when the quads were repaved to meet code. Moreover, since none of the projects are off schedule, according to a University spokesperson, it was apparent to the administration when they approved plans to begin construction over winter break that these projects would continue well into winter quarter.

Even if the timing of the project was somehow unavoidable, there is no reason why the administration could not have better publicized the extent and duration of construction to students. Project updates were listed in a difficult-to-locate section of the University website; a brief email notification at the beginning of the term would have gone a long way toward dispelling frustration and facilitating regular commutes across campus. At the very least, noisy saw-cutting outside of Snell-Hitchcock Hall could have been pushed back a couple hours from its start time of 8 o’clock one Saturday morning in order to accommodate the building’s 156 residents.

Campus construction is a bittersweet reality for our community. Indeed, it is encouraging to see continued commitment to new projects such as the Searle Chemistry Lab renovation and the Mansueto Library. However, with ongoing construction engulfing much of campus on a regular basis, the administration should take additional care to minimize difficulties associated with smaller, more flexible projects.

— The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and three Editorial Board members.