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Students voice concerns about construction of new dorms

Members of the student body have voiced frustration about the construction of new residence halls near Johnson Pond.

Some students are bothered by the noise of the construction, which interferes with their sleep schedules. Construction often begins at 7 a.m. on weekdays and is loud enough to wake many residents of East and West Quads, Roberts Row, AMS, and even Hillside.

Pond Drive, which was used by students to travel campus both by foot and car, closed to the public mid-February and will not reopen until Aug. 31.

Some students feel that the closing of Pond Drive has made it significantly more difficult for them to navigate campus. This road was also an invaluable access point for students with mental and physical disabilities, who relied on it for transportation and delivery services.

Students have also raised concerns about the location of the dorms, as the grassy area near Johnson Pond was a treasured gathering place for the community. In previous semesters, it was common to see students gathering there on sunny days to sit in hammocks, study, or just hang out. Many feel that this area is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed by the community.

AMS resident Samantha Zacarro `24 wishes the school made it easier for students living in AMS and Hillside to navigate campus.

“On one hand, I understand that they have to close the road because of where they are building the dorms, but as someone who lives in AMS, it is extremely inconvenient and I wish there was a small walkway instead of the entire area being fenced off,” Zacarro said. “It is inconvenient for me to go from Hillside or AMS to the AC; I have to walk all the way around Averill, which has been very muddy and icy recently.”

While Zacarro understands that new housing needs to be built, she also explained that she will miss the field surrounding Johsnon pond.

“I am not an expert, so I can’t tell you where the best location for the dorms would be,” Zacarro said. “However, I used to play volleyball and hangout with my friends in the field by Johnson Pond where the construction is now, and I will definitely miss that space.”

A student who wishes to remain anonymous stated that Pond Drive being closed disproportionately affects students with mental and physical health issues.

“Students who have either chronic or acute mental or physical health issues lose access to things like getting food delivered and getting picked up by non-Colby cars for travel purposes, whether that’s going to a doctor’s appointment, going to Portland, or going home,” the anonymous student said. “Even if there are no chronically disabled people living in those seven dorms, it’s really limiting to have that road closed. Especially because the pathways around campus are often poorly paved and not well lit, having roads near the buildings is critical.”

This student explained that the closure may also affect students who are hurt and require unexpected temporary accommodations. They said that they wished the school offered some access to Pond Drive instead of permanently closing the road.

“I don’t know what the solution is. Congestion has always been as issue on Pond Drive, but maybe there is a way to have someone by that gate who can allow a limited number of cars in at a time, or they can open Pond Drive to students for a part of the day, but the 24 hour closing of Pond Drive is very frustrating,” the student said.

This student lives in Johnson and also spoke about how the construction has affected their work and sleep schedule.

“I have insomnia, and one thing that really helps me manage my sleep schedule is afternoon naps, which haven’t been possible given the noise,” the student said. “It’s also impacted my work. I do some of my best work in my room, partially because of my anxiety and partially because I’ve curated a space that is calming for me. During peak energy hours of the day, the noises can be very loud because the construction is so close to my dorm.”

The student explained that last year, when they were doing construction in Marylow, the College sent email announcements detailing the times of day students could expect to hear loud construction noise.

We didn’t get any information about specific times of day when construction might be particialty loud [this year], and if we had that information I could adjust my schedule around that,” the student said. “For example, if I knew they did ‘quieter’ stuff in the evening, at least I could consider that when I think about my daily routine.”

Additionally, this student pointed out that the temporary nature of the dorms feels very wasteful, especially because the College has cut down trees and destroyed much of the natural environment near the pond in order to create space for them.

West Quad resident Alex Kaye ‘24 said that while Pond Drive being closed has not significantly impacted his life, the construction noise has affected his sleep.

“The construction wakes me up at 7:30 every morning and it is pretty loud,” Kaye said. “It interferes with my sleep schedule, I’m waking up earlier than normal.”

Though there is a need for new housing in order to accommodate the growing student body, many members of the community have voiced concerns about where the construction is taking place, and its various impacts on student accessibility and recreation.

~ Veronica McIntyre ’24

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