The construction in Middle Earth, while necessary, is disruptive and can even be detrimental to the freshmen who have no choice but to live near it. Noise pollution happens when unwanted sounds permeate an environment; these sounds tend to be very loud and consistent and can affect an individual’s behavior and health.
An individual can suffer hearing damage, hypertension, higher amounts of stress, and interrupted sleep. This means that for those who live closest to the construction, their learning capabilities could be affected as well as their mental wellbeing. I was already undergoing immense stress over grades, money, and trying to balance my social and academic life as a first year, and if I had lived near an active construction zone, all of that stress would have been magnified.
Even if the construction did not have such drastic consequences, living near construction zones can be downright annoying. Imagine trying to sleep in after studying all night and being rudely awakened by the beeping of large contraptions. Or trying to study in the dorms and being able to hear every single decibel of the construction noises because of how thin the walls are. I lived in Middle Earth my freshmen year and could hear people’s conversations, arguments, crying, and other extracurricular activities. If I could hear all of that, I can only imagine how irritating the construction is to the students living in close proximity.
Furthermore, freshmen are adapting to college which is hard enough on its own. Add in not being able to have a quiet living space and there could be trouble. As Les Blomberg, executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse put it, “Like secondhand smoke, it’s put into the environment without people’s consent and then has effects on them that they don’t have any control over.”
The construction in Middle Earth could affect the way a student sleeps, studies, and even the way they hear. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy organization in the U.S., points out how most of us do not realize that construction equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, and paving equipment pollute our air with diesel just the same as cars and buses do. This means that not only are there disruptive noises caused by construction, but the air quality for students is also harmful.
Resident Advisor of Rohan Hall, Michael Llagan, explained how his own hall was not directly affected because of its distance to the construction. He noted that, “Construction, if anything, has not affected my hall too much in terms of sound and other factors like dust and debris, but has caused an inconvenience in pathways to and from the main campus.”
Arguably, the downsides of the construction, for the most part, only affect the residence halls nearest to the construction. For those near the construction sites, UCI has provided face masks and earplugs — which does not help the the problem, but is at least an attempt to acknowledge the issue. Earplugs only lower noise volumes and the face masks are too embarrassing and inconvenient to consistently use in a way that would be helpful. The earplugs and face masks are more like symbolic gestures that show UCI knows construction is an inconvenience for the freshmen there. In reality, their benefits, and even the chances of people using them, are not high.
On the other hand, there are positives to the construction. As Resident Advisor Payal Goswami expressed, “It will result in more students being able to experience the dorm life, more students being able to be RAs, and more adults having full-time jobs.”
UCI needs to accommodate future freshmen while every year more and more students go to college. The housing being constructed is definitely needed, especially after having accepted a larger amount of freshmen. There is no denying that all of this is true, but at whose expense?
Daisy Murguia is a second-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.