Kirk: a noisy place to live

By Annie Lewine

Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a new series of community-oriented columns written by Mac Weekly editors.Since the plans to construct the Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center were announced last fall, the project has been surrounded by controversy: arguments over gender-open locker rooms, frustrations with the amount of money being spent on athletics and questions about how a new athletic facility will affect the student body.

One perhaps unforeseen and certainly overlooked issue with the MARC construction has been its effect on students living in Kirk. Upperclassmen already live in cramped, sinkless rooms and now must contend with the noise, smells and dust from the construction as well. Many juniors and seniors have ended up in Kirk rooms facing the construction while some sophomores enjoy spacious, air-conditioned, quiet suites in George Draper Dayton Hall.

In the past few years, Macalester has faced dozens of empty beds in upperclassmen dorms, and it seems to have been doing little to persuade juniors and seniors to stay on campus. Instead, Wallace’s 2006 transition into a sophomore only dorm has ensured that there are few or no options for upperclassmen who want to live in singles or doubles.

Katie Bonesho ’09 and her two roommates decided to live in Kirk instead of GDD despite a good room draw number because they wanted their own rooms.

“I decided to live in section one because I figured it would be furthest away from the construction and not that noisy,” Bonesho said. “But my roommate and I have already been woken up by it a few times. It sounds like someone’s banging on our windows.”

The noise from the construction has been “a concern,” according to Director of Facilities Management Mark Dickinson. But not much has been done to help students in Kirk, except for asking the crews to stick to a strict 7:30-3:30 schedule. But asking construction crews to work starting at 7:30 in the morning as a way to accommodate college students’ lifestyles seems a bit unaccomodating. How many people living in Kirk actually want to be awake that early?

“I’ve been woken up several times, which is frustrating because this is the first semester I haven’t had an 8:30 class,” Lisa Norback ’08 said. “Most of my friends live off campus, so I couldn’t get a suite in GDD. So unless I wanted to find my own place off campus, Kirk was my only option.”

The noise and smells issuing from the construction site are annoying, but somewhat understandable, she said, but “yesterday and today I left the windows open in my room and went to classes. When I got back, my desk and everything on it were covered in dust.”

Once we get past debates on whether or not the MARC should be built – which are somewhat beside the point now that the walls of the new center have been erected – it’s reasonable to ask students to put up with the occasional, or even daily, noises associated with the construction during classes and while studying in the library. But to give students no alternatives to living in such close proximity to an enormous construction project seems unfair to people who just want an extra few minutes of sleep in the morning.