Constant campus construction bothers students of today to benefit students of tomorrow

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

No matter where you are on the University of Oregon campus, construction is visible. You can see it when you’re walking down 13th Avenue, passing the newly built walls of what will eventually be Tykeson Hall, staring up at the large yellow crane looming over Lillis Hall.

You can see it when you’re driving down Agate Street, peeking over the small fence at what used to be Historic Hayward Field, but is now reduced to a large open space with dump trucks and debris spilling onto the road.

You can see it on University Street, as you’re exiting the health center. Or across the street, as you’re entering the financial aid office, which has been temporarily relocated due to construction in Oregon Hall.

While the construction may be a nuisance when commuting to class or appointments, is it  impeding students’ ability to learn?

Riley Christensen, a UO senior majoring in psychology, has multiple classes near the heart of campus, where Tykeson Hall is currently halfway done being built. Christensen says the most frustrating aspect of the construction is how distracting it is.  

“It’s difficult to hear what the professor is saying, and she occasionally has to stop her train of thought to wait for a break in the noise,” Christensen said.  “And I can almost never hear what a classmate is saying during discussion.”

Christensen’s sociology professor, Elaine Replogle, says that while students haven’t directly complained to the department head, the noise from construction has impacted her ability to hear students in the classroom.

“The construction is making my job a bit harder,” Replogle said. ”It was worse earlier in the term, when we wanted to keep the windows open but had to close them because the construction noise was so loud.”

Tykeson Hall, which broke ground in October 2017, is a two-year venture that will end in a four-story College and Careers building designed to increase accessibility to student advising, as well as help with post-graduation job placement. In late 2017, UO’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved an $11 million budget increase in order to add a basement to the building.

An early concern regarding construction on Tykeson Hall was the displacement of nearly 40 parking spots, mostly reserved for faculty and staff.

James Shephard, a Clarks Honors College courtesy professor of law who teaches for one term a year, says that while the noise doesn’t bother him too much, he did have trouble parking during the beginning of the year.

“I’ve lived in big cities before, so noise isn’t anything new,” Shephard said. “But parking around UO has always been an issue.”

The UO School of Law is no stranger to a loss of parking spots. When demolition of the historic Hayward Field began in July, Agate Street, which separates the law school from Hayward Field, gave up dozens of street parking spots. A number of trees that lined the street leading up to 18th were also lost.

Nicole Vetter, a second year UO law student, says she misses the view from the law library.

“The worst part about the construction is having to stare at it from the library instead of getting to look at the pretty trees that used to be there,” Vetter said.

Vetter, who does most of her studying in the library with an expectation of silence, can’t seem to escape the noise either.

“I can hear the trucks and the machines working,” Vetter said. “It’s annoying when I’m really stressed and trying to get work done.”

The Hayward Field construction, with a strict deadline of 2021, will end just in time for the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships. Eugene, which reportedly bypassed the usual bidding process, will be the first U.S. city to host the event since its beginning in 1976.

Construction on campus is nothing new. Siobhan Mead, who began her studies at UO in 2012, recently graduated in 2016 and remembers construction through the entirety of her time at school.

“They were renovating the EMU, which was hard to miss because it’s so central to campus,” Mead said. “Plus the constant student housing complexes popping up.”

While Mead said she missed having access to the rec center for most of her time at UO, she said she’s optimistic about the construction and the future of the campus.

“There is so much happening on campus, I never focused on the construction,” Mead said. “It’s really nice having new facilities in the end.”

Erica Daley, associate dean of finance and operation in UO’s law school, is also excited about the end result of this constant construction.

“The law school is pretty well-insulated, I don’t really hear much of the construction,” Daley said. “But I can’t wait to hear the roar of the crowd once the new stadium is built. That’s what I miss the most about the old field.”

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