An Ugly Disruption: UConn Students Can’t Escape Large-Scale Construction Projects

Con­struc­tion near South Cam­pus dorms. (Jake Kelly/UConn Journalism)

By Jake Kelly

Michelle Shavnya would have cho­sen a dif­fer­ent place to live her senior year if she had known of the impend­ing con­struc­tion right next to her dorm. 

She has a suite in Wil­son, a res­i­dence hall in Uni­ver­si­ty of Connecticut’s South Cam­pus, and she has no choice but to tol­er­ate the nois­es from the truck access for the new con­struc­tion of a res­i­dence and din­ing hall. Even before 8 a.m., the begin­ning of con­struc­tion, beep­ing and back­ing up of trucks can be heard as the work­ers pre­pare for the day.

It gets loud, espe­cial­ly some­times when they use the jack­ham­mers,” Shavnya said whie stand­ing out­side her suite. “You nev­er real­ly know what a giv­en day will look like.” 

Despite the dis­rup­tion to her life, she still con­sid­ers her­self lucky her suite faces away from much of the ruckus of con­struc­tion, espe­cial­ly the under­ground explosions.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Con­necti­cut boasts an assort­ment of inno­v­a­tive design and old, his­toric red brick build­ings. In recent months, it’s also been host to large-scale con­struc­tion projects such as the Toscano Fam­i­ly Ice Forum and the Sci­ence 1 Research Center. 

In Novem­ber, ground was offi­cial­ly bro­ken for a new res­i­dence and din­ing hall locat­ed in South Cam­pus, accord­ing to a Pow­er­point from Res­i­dence Life. It’s one of four planned projects for the area, which will also include relo­ca­tion of the his­toric hous­es, an infra­struc­ture project and Mir­ror Lake improvements.

How­ev­er, all this new devel­op­ment has cre­at­ed obsta­cles for stu­dents and has dis­rupt­ed their lives, par­tic­u­lar­ly those who live in South Cam­pus dorms. 

Cam­pus con­struc­tion. (Jake Kelly/UConn Journalism)

Prat­toyi Saha, a junior phys­i­ol­o­gy and neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy and psy­chol­o­gy dou­ble major liv­ing in Rose­brooks Hall has faced mul­ti­ple incon­ve­niences since con­struc­tion began. She’s been wok­en up by con­struc­tion and blasts that vibrate her room; lost access to a main route to class and near­by bus line; received no accom­mo­da­tion, like ear­buds, to deal with the noise; and has faced a lack of trans­par­ent com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the university. 

There hasn’t real­ly been any effort made, in my opin­ion, to make this any eas­i­er for us,” Saha said.

Saha describes her­self as an adapt­able per­son, but the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and infor­ma­tion has made it hard for her to do so. 

It’s main­ly just the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I wish the uni­ver­si­ty had been a lot more clear about when things were gonna start, what things would be affect­ed and then asked for some input on ways they could help us adjust to the sit­u­a­tion,” Saha said.

Danielle, a senior psy­chol­o­gy major, asked for her last name to not be used in order to speak freely about her expe­ri­ences. She is a friend of Saha’s and her for­mer room­mate. She made the dif­fi­cult deci­sion to leave her friends in Rose­brooks to move into a Hill­top apart­ment because of the noise and the lack of uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ca­tion and res­i­den­tial life.

Con­struc­tion was announced on Aug. 3, right after the fall hous­ing can­cel­la­tion dead­line. She said res­i­dents didn’t receive a time­line until Oct. 20, in the form of an infor­ma­tion ses­sion announced last minute.

Danielle lived in a suite look­ing direct­ly into the con­struc­tion. She said she is a light sleep­er and was often awak­ened around 6:30 or 7 a.m. even though there were sup­posed to be qui­et hours until 8 a.m. She also said no accom­mo­da­tions, such as ear­buds or sound­proof­ing, were made.

It was hard for Danielle to walk away from her group and the close prox­im­i­ty that made spend­ing time togeth­er easy.

One of the peo­ple I was liv­ing with, who is like my best friend at UConn, we hung out every­day. I can still see them, but not as much. It was real­ly hard to break that news to them, because it was a process to get us all to live togeth­er,” Danielle said.