By Michelle Bui
Since returning from spring break, several Mesa Court residents have issued complaints regarding jackhammers waking them up at seven in the morning as a result of Mesa construction workers failing to meet their promised 8 a.m. start time for construction on an ongoing housing project.
Since fall quarter of 2014, construction has been going on in Mesa Court to create more housing for incoming freshman. About 80 percent of new freshmen choose to live on campus, and there are currently not enough freshman resident halls to cater to all of them. During this past academic year, freshmen had to be assigned to housing communities that do not typically house freshmen, like Campus Village and Arroyo Vista, due to the lack of space. This current construction plan is projected to be completed in time for the 2016-2017 school year, providing 800 new beds for incoming freshman.
In an effort to shield the current residents from the noises and disturbances of construction, a 15-foot sound wall was put up between the construction site and existing halls when construction began. However, it was announced that over spring break, these walls would be removed to finish the final phase of construction.
In an email sent to Mesa residents, Director of Mesa Court Housing Lou Gill promised that the loudest part of construction would be done over break, and any other noisy construction during the quarter would begin after 8 a.m. To the disappointment of many residents, noisy construction during the first week of the quarter began earlier than anticipated and lasted throughout the day.
Residents of Loma and Arroyo, Mesa Court halls adjacent to where the old sound wall used to stand, have been most affected by the noise.
“I seriously have a headache from waking up to it, and it lasts all day,” said Loma resident Erin Ballard. “I noticed that my room was vibrating. I would be sitting on my bed, and all of a sudden it would start vibrating, because the jackhammers are right there.”
Ballard, like many Loma residents, expressed her concerns about these issues to UCI Housing when the problem persisted after a couple days.
Ballard explained that, in an email reply she received from a Resident Life Coordinator of Mesa Court, she was told that nothing could be done about the construction. To cope, she was advised to get earplugs or move to a different dorm.
She argues that the constructors and UCI Housing are more concerned with helping future freshmen than accommodating current residents.
On the other hand, Loma RA Molly Naudi has been more accepting of the situation. Although she admits that construction can be disruptive, she believes that the construction company and UCI Housing are doing the best they can in this situation.
“The construction company is on contract and deadline,” she explained. “There are 800 new residents that will be moving in, so construction has to get done.”
As far as affecting current residents, she feels that, in meeting the demand for more freshman housing, the university is making itself a more appealing choice and an overall better school.
“It’s exciting to know this is going to continue to improve the perception of UCI and the reputation that it has, and that’s only going to make me look better when UCI is on my resume,” she said.
As an RA, however, Molly is also sensitive to the concerns of the freshman residents. She explained that UCI Housing is making an effort to mitigate the stresses of construction by planning more Mesa Court events for students. UCI Housing has also promised to better enforce the 8 a.m. start time for construction, and says that students should call housing if they hear construction too early.