Ohio University has been in a state of construction since the school year began in August. From the upheaval of bricks on College Green to the construction of new residence halls on South Green, it is unlikely that a student will complete a day’s trek across campus without passing some space under renovation.
Most students are no strangers to construction. When it constantly obstructs heavily student-trafficked areas such as Park Place in front of Alden, Scripps Hall and Lindley Hall, the construction becomes an intrusion.
Alex Elkins, a freshman studying creative writing, is one of the students who believes there is room for improvement.
“It bothers me a lot when I’m walking to class,” Elkins said. “I have to walk through a lot of high-traffic areas because most of my classes are in Ellis and it isn’t fun to have to squeeze by people when they aren’t so considerate.”
The construction creates major problems on campus. The noise and unsightly fences that come from the renovations disrupt the otherwise calm vibe of OU.
For Cory Swaink, a sophomore studying chemical engineering, the multiple renovations are detracting from the atmosphere and the general experience.
“The reason I came to OU is that it’s so pretty,” Swaink said. “This construction everywhere? Not so much.”
Elkins agrees with Swaink’s opinion of the construction.
“I’m so used to seeing just straight nature and the beauty of all the architecture and it gets clouded by all the debris from what they’re tearing up and changing,” Elkins said. “They weren’t thinking when they decided to wait until school started in order to get started on all of this stuff.”
Not everyone sees the renovations as a problem. Lauren Settlemyre, a freshman studying information design, thinks it makes the campus feel alive.
Students are still worried, however, about how long it will take to finish the construction.
“On South Green, you can tell they’re working really hard because they have a deadline. They’re always out there at 8 a.m., and they’re doing a really good job,” said Micah Winter, a sophomore studying electrical engineering. “I’m worried about Park Place, personally. Every time I’m there, there isn’t anyone working on it. At least last year when they worked on it, you felt like something was getting done.”
Winter is also disappointed with the timing of the various projects.
“I mean, I understand that all this stuff has to get done, but it just sucks that we have to be the classes to deal with it,” Winter said. “Couldn’t any of this be done in the summer?”
With the predicted harsh winter coming up, many students are concerned that the construction is going to make it worse.
“Last year, I took the purple loop bus when it was -10˚ outside,” said Swaink. “Last year, it would always run late, and there was a lot less construction going on then.”
On top of all the current construction, Boyd Dining Hall will be closed next semester for renovations as well. According to university records, the entire remodel of the dining hall has a budget of about $12 million. The funding will go toward updating the interior of the hall, how food is served to students and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems within the building.
“We have a ton of freshmen already, and now everyone is going to have to trudge through the snow all the way down to East or South Green to go eat,” Elkins said .
All of the current developments are just a sign to come, according to the most recent Board of Trustees meetings. Plans have been approved to update the HVAC system in Alden, continue with Phase II of Schoonover Center and work on various buildings on Ohio University’s satellite campuses.
In Athens, students understand the value of the work being done across campus. Many people still feel, however, that important areas are being forgotten. All the dorms on South Green, for instance, were built in the ’60s and ’70s. Most have not had extensive updates since.
“I live on South, and the entire living conditions in the dorms need a lot of work there,” Winter said. “I really want to see them rerun the electricity so that everyone can have an air conditioner. It’s miserable without them.”
The lack of air conditioners is not the only downside to the problems on South Green, according to Winter.
“It’s more important that they work on all the heaters. You know how the residence people tell you not to bring space heaters? They took one look at my room’s heater last year and issued me a space heater that I had to return at the end of the year.”
Cost is another factor to consider. At the Ohio University Board of Trustees meeting held on Aug. 26, the board voted to approve a budget for upgrades in Lin Hall, Morton Hall and Jefferson Hall for over $1.08 million dollars. The grand total of the three projects are budgeted to ultimately cost a combined total of over $48 million dollars.
The majority of OU students are affected by construction in one way or another. Students have to reroute their trips to class, plan around the anticipated winter weather and deal with noise and eyesores from one corner of campus to another.
Students recognize that the construction ultimately benefits everyone. Despite that, they still want the work done quickly and efficiently so that everyone can all go back to appreciating the beautiful campus.
Winter sums it up best: “Come on, Ohio. Just hurry up.”