Residents of Berkeley College North Court who sleep through their alarm clocks need not worry this semester.
To the tune of jackhammers and dump trucks, many students have been awoken by the construction noises at the Schwarzman Center across the street from their dorms. According to several Berkeley students, the construction often begins around 7 or 7:15 a.m. on weekdays and is audible from their dorm rooms, especially those rooms facing Beinecke Plaza. Eight students told the News that the sounds have disrupted their sleep. Students shared their concerns about the noise with Head of Berkeley College David Evans ’92, who contacted Schwarzman Center Executive Director Garth Ross to pass along the students’ comments.
“As director of the Schwarzman Center, I appreciate the Berkeley students voicing their concerns because I want the construction process to result in as little disruption to campus life as possible,” Ross wrote in an email to the News.
In an email on Tuesday, Evans said that he had first learned of the student noise complaints only days before. He spoke with a student who did not believe the noise was much of a concern, he said, but added that he takes the issue seriously as “there might be other students who haven’t voiced deeper concerns.” Of the 21 North Court residents who corresponded with the News about the issue, 17 said that the construction site noise is audible from either their bedrooms or common rooms. Thirteen students said that they found the noise to be disturbing, eight of which reported being woken up by the noise at least once.
The Schwarzman Center, planned to become the hub of student life, is expected to be completed in 2020. For those for whom the noise is unbearable, Evans said Berkeley has purchased white noise machines for students to drown out the sound.
After Evans passed along the student complaints to Ross, Ross contacted Yale Facilities to address the issue. In an email, construction project manager Michael Douyard said that it is routine for construction that creates noise disturbances to begin no earlier than 8 a.m. during the academic year “to keep disruption to a minimum to students.”
“There is a significant amount of work that Facilities has ongoing in the vicinity of The Schwarzman Center Project,” Douyard wrote. “I have met with the construction manager for The Schwarzman Center as well as the project management team in Facilities to enforce the start time for the work on campus.”
Doyard added that Facilities has asked the Yale Police Department to increase its patrols during these hours.
Colin Baciocco ’21 told the News that the noise is produced “by jackhammering, sawing and using a backhoe to drop loads of rocks into a dump- truck.” He added that from his fourth-floor room overlooking Beinecke Plaza, it is difficult to drown out the noise, even with earplugs or a loud fan.
“There is nothing you can do to drown out the sounds of the construction,” Joseph Bosco ’20 wrote in an email to the News. “Every day I wake up at 7:00 AM to the incessant hammering of power tools, a sound that pierces through walls, windows, pillows, and earplugs and presses on well into the afternoon!”
Charlotte Kavaler ’21, a resident of North Court who said she is a “light sleeper,” said that the early noise makes it impossible for her to sleep in. She added that she is especially bothered by it because “it is for a project– which I have yet to hear anyone actually needs.”
According to previous polls by the News, the Schwarzman Center has received little support from the faculty, with just 14 percent of faculty surveyed in 2017 viewing the project favorably. But the administration has defended the project, saying it will provide a unifying home for the arts and student life for students across the University.
Some Berkeley students said that they do not find the noise coming from the construction to be bothersome.
“People need to do their job. They need to work to support themselves,” Anthony Anzano ’20 wrote in an email to the News. “The construction starts pretty ‘early,’ but only in respect to the Yale bubble that we so comfortably reside. The real world functions before we get up for our 9:25. Only at Yale would we be entitled to complain about such a thing.”
Anzano suggested that his fellow Berkeleyites should “buy ear plugs. Play some white noise. Wake up earlier. Stop complaining.”
Stephen Schwarzman ’69, after whom the center is named, is chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group.
Serena Cho contributed reporting.
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