Construction in Contention

Despite many complaints that you might hear from students, the ongoing construction here at St. John’s is necessary for the University to grow.

But why, you might ask? Well, there are many reasons as to why the construction is going to improve life at St. John’s.

There are currently many construction projects taking place here-the new student center (set to open in fall ’09), a new and improved Carnesseca Arena, the townhouses (set to open this fall) and the humanities center being added to the library.

First, it is essential for St. John’s to recruit the best new students and professors that it can. As shallow as it might seem, the aesthetics of a university go a long way.

The more buildings that are added to the University, the more established the school will look, will attract more students and even accomplished professors to look at St. John’s.

Raising academic standards is one way to get better students, but another way is to simply beautify the campus. That alone could attract more deserving students to apply.

St. John’s is also in the process of making the transition from a mostly commuter school to more of a hybrid. Last year, a little under 80 percent of the student population were commuters.

The number of residents, though, is continually growing, and with the addition of the new townhouses, the school is undoubtedly heading in the direction of a 50/50 split between residents and commuters.

Once the current projects are completed, the University will feel more like a home to both the students living on campus and to those living off campus.

This is especially true for the new student center that is currently being built. This building will be much larger and better equipped to house all of the student organizations.

Having a building like this on campus might just give students the extra push that they need to get involved in extracurricular activities.

Once students start joining organizations, they will have something to really look forward to when they are at school.

The renovated Carnesseca Arena will also be beneficial to the University and its students. Basketball is the most popular sport here at St. John’s, and with the team playing less and less at Madison Square Garden, we need a worthy home for them on campus.

The library is undergoing renovations that are going to improve the University, too. St. Augustine Hall is currently adding a humanities center to the second floor.
This will open up new facilities to the humanities professors at St. John’s and free up space in St. John Hall.

Sure, the construction taking place on campus is going to take time, causing some inconveniences to everyone trying to get around campus. But the final outcome of all the construction will be extremely beneficial to the University.

With new townhouses, better facilities and more beautiful parts of campus, the happiness of the students here is bound to go up.

With more organizations thanks to the bigger student center, there may be even more activities to participate in on weekends and evenings for resident students, creating a more vibrant resident life.

All these changes are needed for St. John’s to grow into a top-tier university. And the sooner that St. John’s cracks that top tier, the better for us-its
future graduates.

Anyone walking the St. John’s campus for the first time this summer might be wondering what this school would look like without piles of dirt and half-constructed buildings everywhere. For those of us who were on campus this past year, we kind of wish we could remember.

With its wide, sweeping lawns, tall, collegiate-looking buildings, shaded walkways, and abundance of greenery, St. John’s has always been a nice-looking campus. Unfortunately, no one on campus this year would know it.

Construction projects popped up everywhere, blocking off areas at short notice and making everything look just plain messy.

Commuters took the biggest hit this year, as parking lots shrank steadily throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. The townhouses were built over a large portion of the lot by Gate 1 and St. John Hall.

Then, work needed to be done on pipes under the parking lot by the Belson soccer stadium, causing parts of that lot to be covered by holes, construction vehicles, or huge piles of dirt.

Certain gates would be closed or paths blocked due to construction with no notice being sent out to the commuters.

They would learn that their usual entrance to school was closed off only when they arrived at school, an inconvenience that easily could have been avoided.

Resident students have faced their share of problems as well. Walking to and from classes in the morning, students have been blasted by the earth-shattering racket of construction vehicles digging holes and moving debris practically right outside their doors.

While the former Vincentian Residence was being gutted to begin its transformation into a freshman dormitory, debris from breaking down walls and widening windows was moved from the building into waiting dumpsters, which happened to be waiting along the path many students take to class.

On more than a few morning walks, residents found themselves rushing through clouds of dust and dodging around workers clad in coveralls, gloves, and facemasks.

This most assuredly did not lead students to feel very safe about the conditions they were living in.

Of course, it could be argued that inconveniences such as these are to be expected on any growing university like St. John’s, but there should be some point where the University draws the line. New construction projects just kept appearing, with little to no notice for students.

There has not been any wait between projects, either. New building foundations, old building repairs, and anything in between have been initiated before other construction has finished, leaving the areas of campus untouched by construction to diminish as the weeks go by.

St. John’s administrators may have gone a little overboard in this “master plan” of theirs. New dorms are a good idea. Fixing leaking pipes is necessary.

Increasing office space around campus will help faculty and administrators do their jobs. Even putting in a sprinkler system on the Great Lawn can improve campus. But do all these things really have do be done at the same time? They are not all seriously pressing concerns.

Yes, this is a growing campus. And yes, construction is a necessary part of that, but anyone who knows the condition of campus right now would agree that the appearance of the school has suffered tremendously because of the overly ambitious “master plan.”