News | Student Life

As construction winds down, tunnels become the roads less travelled

Former Barnard tunnel dwellers, rejoice: You are now free to move around your campus. Construction closed off the direct path to Milbank Hall last year, but the route is now open.

Previously, students and faculty had to take a circuitous path through Barnard’s underground tunnels to reach Milbank, which was partitioned off due to the construction of Barnard’s new student center—The Diana nee Nexus. Barnard wanderers can now walk beside the Diana’s orange-tinted glass in a straight shot to Milbank classrooms.

The building is due to be completed in January 2010, according to Barnard Vice President for Communications Joanne Kwong. But on the first day of classes, students were already content with shorter commutes between classes.

“I can get to my classes more efficiently above ground,” Alex Goodman, BC ’12, said.

“The options are expanded and campus navigation becomes less hectic and more convenient,” noted José Perez, CC ’12.

And according to classics professor Helene Foley, students dashing to class aren’t the only ones who appreciate the new route.

“All the faculty I have talked with love the new pass-through,” Foley wrote in an e-mail. “The tunnel is fine for bad weather, but it is very daunting (and slow) to people unfamiliar with it.”

Tunnel loyalists too are looking forward to less traffic underground.

“I am excited because there will be less congestion in the tunnels,” said Sandy Susser, BC ’10, who can often be found below campus.

Some sophomores complained that incoming first-years will have the advantage of navigating this year’s more accessible campus.

“It was a kind of depressing first impression to always have to use the tunnels,” Goodman said.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s an advantage. ... I just think it’s different,” Alexandra Ingber, BC ’12, disagreed. “We got to see the stages of construction and they get to see the final stage. … The tunnels are still open and now the outside walkway is, so both classes get to enjoy it.”

The Diana—previously the punchline of many jokes after a 2008 donation from Trustee Diana Vagelos, BC ‘55, led to suspicions that the building would be nicknamed “The Vag”—will kick off with a bang in February 2010 after opening its doors in January.

But don’t hold your breath for an early peek inside. Tours for students are not currently available, but Katie Palillo, BC ’10 who is president of Barnard’s Student Government Association, hopes to change that soon.

Until then, students can enjoy meandering about a campus that has previously been high on noise and low on space. “The intimacy of the Barnard campus is one of its best features,” Foley said. “This now at least partly restores it.”

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