Flames of the Torch

For more than a year now we’ve seen the new building coming to life. For two semesters, a seemingly endless stream of trucks, equipment and construction workers have become a standard part of life on campus as the new University Center takes shape.

Arriving back on campus for the start of the 2009 fall semester, students have probably noticed significant progress in the building, now officially known as “The D’Angelo Center” named after SJU trustee and alumni Peter D’Angelo and his wife, Peg. Clean stone work and sleek windows now gives the building a stylish appearance that suggests the construction work may soon be coming to an end. Moreover, Brij Anand, vice president of facilities, recently told the Torch that the building is “close to 90 percent” complete and that he expects the building to be finished by late September. Darren Morton, assistant vice president for student affairs, said student clubs, organizations and other groups will be moving in starting Sept. 24.

While the new building is expected to bring much needed space, classrooms, activity rooms and dining facilities to student life, it seems risky to set such a date for the building’s projected occupancy in the middle of the semester. Yes, students are ready to experience the D’Angelo Center and all it has to offer, but, in order to avoid mid-semester chaos, it may be prudent to postpone a university-wide move until winter break because many organizations involved rely on a set schedule.

Last fall, students experienced what it was like to not have full access to a school library. For the first few months of the semester, the library, and much of St. Augustine Hall, was construction-ridden and closed to students. In October the library re-opened with better facilities and a more comfortable setting.

But unlike last fall’s library renovation, the new D’Angelo Center will impact students in a different way and requires much more than simply re-opening its doors. Ibi Yolas, executive director of design and construction, told the Torch in the March 19 issue that no classes will be scheduled in the new building’s classrooms until the spring semester in case something goes wrong. Why put student clubs and organizations at risk if there’s even the slightest chance that things could go wrong?

It’s no secret: the final steps of completing a building can often drag on long past the predicted date, especially with a building of the D’Angelo Center’s size. The University has already pushed the expected date back several times, at one time predicting a grand opening for the start of the fall semester.

Various internal jobs and endless state inspection requirements pose an extremely tedious and often lengthy final task that could force the University to push back the date yet again. If this were to happen, students and faculty may grow increasingly peeved as they’re forced to rearrange their schedules.

Instead of rushing and fighting to open the new building during the middle of this semester, why not wait until the start of the spring semester, and move in over winter break? This would provide the University with time to adjust to the changes the building will bring, and guarantee a sufficient amount of time for everyone to move in and settle down.

By giving everyone involved sufficient time to plan their work and activities, what’s really gained by opening its doors mid-semester rather than next spring?

The potential chaos and upheaval will be postponed, or hopefully, eliminated completely by holding off
the move.

The University should consider this reality in planning the grand opening of the new building in order to properly acclimate the intended occupants with the University’s newest addition.