Noise rattles Colonial residents

Students hear Colonial Theatre construction noise early in the morning. Photo : Hardik Pahwa/Berkeley Beacon

Jackhammers and construction noise wake up students living in Colonial Residence Hall instead of their alarm clocks. Residents said they are struggling with the commotion from Little Building and Colonial Theater despite the college’s attempts to find a solution.  

“It’s so loud and it feels like the windows don’t do anything to keep the noise out,” freshman and Colonial resident Gabrielle Dudley said.

On Feb. 9, Colonial Residence Director Michael Barcelo sent out a following entry in a series of emails. In it, he specified construction hours—7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the exception of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on extended days—asking for student voices, and providing suggestions for noise. Barcelo declined to comment.

Between the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., Boston does not permit any noise louder than 50 decibels, according to the city’s website.

“While there may be work crews and individuals around prior to these times and after on site, work should be not conducted outside of these hours,” Barcelo wrote in his email.

Barcelo recognized that despite Boston’s permitted hours of noise and the given hours of construction, there is a possibility of after-hour and weekend work. He also announced an open meeting for residents in the email, with a date confirmed for Feb. 15 on fliers around the residence building.

On Jan. 31, Barcelo sent an email offering Colonial residents earplugs as a non-permanent solution to complaints made to the college.

Dudley said measures like earplugs are not a viable solution.

“If you wear earplugs, then you don’t hear your alarm. It doesn’t really help,” she said.

In an email sent out last September, Barcelo said construction noise “is very much a part of urban living that we will continue to adjust to.”

Colonial residents were made aware of the construction start time by resident assistants during orientation, Dudley said. However, she took a video of the construction noise occurring before the 7 a.m. start time, contradictory to what RAs told her and her suitemates.

Barcelo encouraged students to continue sending feedback so he can send it to senior administrators, according to his Jan. 31 email. He also mentioned conversations between himself and other staff to fix the construction-noise problem the Colonial community faces.

Mullins said she sent complaints to Barcelo about the noise.

“[On Jan. 22, the noise started] at 6:40 a.m., and I don’t think it was drilling. It was jackhammering, and all my suitemates woke up,” Mullins said.  

She did not experience this level of noise last semester, she said—and napping during the day seems impossible.

Senior Associate Vice President for Real Estate Arthur Mombourquette said construction on the Colonial Theater started last May and is expected to wrap up in April of this year. Little Building construction will end fall of 2019.

President M. Lee Pelton said the Colonial Theater strengthens the college’s sense of place in the city, according to a news memo on the college’s website. But the construction attributed to Colonial Theater and Little Building comes at a cost for students.

Mullins and Dudley both said they understand the need for construction and the possible consequences of it.  

For next year, Dudley said the issue of construction plays a factor in her dorm choice as a rising sophomore.

“It’s just nice being [in Colonial],” she said. “But it would be nice getting sleep, too.”

News Editor Shafaq Patel did not edit this article due to a conflict of interest.

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