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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Ridgewood student forum elicits many strong opinions

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: News

On Wednesday Sept. 19, the second of three scheduled forums held on the new Ridgewood residence halls, quickly turned into a battleground for upperclassmen from Ziv and the Village to voice their complaints about early morning construction.

Since the beginning of the semester, construction has lasted from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In the past two weeks, the construction has included jack hammering and hole blasting with dynamite.

According to Jon Modest 08, the situation is absolutely unacceptable.

Modest, who lives in the Village, took a front row seat when the discussion heated up and led the student side of the debate. Many of the students complained of consistently waking up before 8 a.m. after staying up late the previous night doing homework.

Students also noted that the air conditioning was turned off, but they could not open their windows due to the noise of the construction. Professors dont understand when you walk into class late or miss a quiz, exclaimed Modest.

Jill Seplowitz '08 echoed Modests frustration. I was so mad that the only way I could revolt was go to the common room and sleep through my PE class.

Other students complained of not being able to hear their alarms, or carry a conversation in their room.

Students thinking of living in the Village were informed last January about the possibilities of construction during the school year. More information was posted in the spring, and e-mails were sent campus wide about the blasting.

In addition to the intense discussion that followed the forum was the presentation by Sam Lasky, lead architect of the project from William Rawn Associates. Laskys 25 minute presentation included digital images of the buildings appearance
inside and out.

The three buildings, currently named Building A, Building B, and Building C, will house a total of 184 students in 44 apartment style units. The bedrooms will all be singles and each suite will include a common area and a bathroom. Four to six people will most likely live in each suite, and there will be five suites per floor.

The highlight of the new Ridgewood residence halls is a 3,000 square-foot, two story common area in Building A. Surrounded by glass on three sides, the downstairs area would work well for large parties, dining, movies, lectures, and as a general area for studying and socializing. On the far side of the common room will be a kitchen area with an island in the middle, a larger scale version of an island that may be found in a home kitchen.

Were excited about what the common space will be like, Lasky said about the common area, which he said was his favorite part of the project.

Lasky hopes the common area, as well as the entire Ridgewood quad will serve as a social center for upperclassmen. The style of the buildings, which began being designed last February, were planned to encourage more interaction, not only between students living in Ridgewood, but also between students in all the South campus residential halls. The small size of the floors, the orientation of the buildings and the pedestrian paths are all specifically intended to increase socialization, according to Lasky.

Daniel Feldman, Vice President for Capital Projects, took most of the heat from the students. He defended the early start times by saying that the University had a commitment to finish the project by spring semester 2009.

He repeatedly said that the University is trying to do the best we can with the situation, but affirmed that a later start time would not be possible. According
to Feldman, it would cost an extra $600,000 to $900,000 to pay the workers overtime for later start times.

The consensus at the end of the forum was that a compromise would have to be made between the students and administration. Discussion of a compromise revolved around the possibility of a white noise machine, complementary
earplugs, or a reduced cost on their housing rate. Some seniors even joked that they would like an extension on their theses.