On Sept. 3, I was awoken at 8 a.m. by insistent pounding and drilling outside my double on the sixth floor of 616. Having arrived at Barnard the day before, after a nine-hour plane flight, I was extremely jet-lagged and hoping to get as much shut-eye as possible before my 11 a.m. class. Bleary-eyed, I glanced outside to see two men working at the façade directly outside my window. This process has continued from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday since the first day of class.
The drilling makes it impossible to think, let alone study, anywhere in the six-person suite I live in. Additionally, numerous people have been either changing or in some other compromising situation while the workers have been lowered down to work at the façade. I understand that this level of construction and inspection is necessary to ensure that the 600s are safe and compliant with city standards, but I take issue with two main problems: the lack of transparency from Res Life to 616 and 620 residents, and the fact that this work was not completed over the summer.
The extent of prior notice I was given was one email sent by Barnard Residential Life on Aug. 7 explaining the construction that was to take place. However, in the email, Res Life defined the façade work as an “inspection,” and did not mention the constant noise and disruption of the construction. Toward the end of the email, Res Life asked us to “keep our windows closed and shades drawn” when the work was in progress. This is logistically ridiculous, since construction goes on for eight hours of the day. Asking residents to keep their shades and windows closed during the hottest hours of the day, in the hottest month of the year, knowing that there is shoddy lighting and no air conditioning in the 600s, is nothing short of insulting. Res Life called this request a “simple suggestion,” but with the combination of the noise and the heat it is too much to ask. Trying to downplay the disruption this “inspection” has caused shows that Res Life is out of touch and simply doesn’t care what happens to the residents of 616 and 620.
At the end of the email from Res Life, my biggest question remained unanswered: Why is this “inspection” happening now? If Res Life administrators knew months beforehand that this construction was going to happen, what stopped them from scheduling the construction during the summer when there were no residents in 616 or 620? And if there was a specific reason for which the inspection had to take place during the first month of class, why couldn’t Res Life tell us this reason in the initial email? This lack of explanation has made the entire situation even more frustrating.
Res Life has dealt very poorly with this situation and could have at least offered more transparency about the timing of the inspection and what it actually entailed. This would have properly prepared the residents of 616 and 620, and made my morning wake-up call a little less infuriating.
The author is a Barnard College senior majoring in political science.
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