Sunday, January 24, 2021

Construction to slow toward finals

Most students will be long gone by May 12, but students and faculty both know the time between now and then is crucial academically.

We’re all either grinding tirelessly, coasting along or scrambling to save our semester and swing a passing grade. No matter your situation, one factor that may throw us all off is the never-ending construction that has continued on campus since I arrived in 2015, and likely began well before my time here. Back then, it was Hawkins Pond being renovated. Now, it’s the area surrounding Feinberg Library. Who knows what’s in store for next fall?

Restorations such as these are typical for a college that’s trying to improve campus life for its students and the next wave of enrollees.

With the recent passing of the Excelsior Scholarship Program — a free tuition program for income eligible New Yorkers — future student enrollment will likely increase.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, the North Country is home to 18,542 families with college-age students who would be eligible for the program.

In fall 2017, the income eligibility for a family or individual is up to $100,000 per year. It jumps to $110,000 per year in 2018 and $125,000 per year in 2019, according to an article by local news site MyChamplainValley.com.

The increase in income eligibility isn’t the only catch. Students who utilize the Excelsior Scholarship Program will be required to live and work in New York for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship.

Our campus is currently home to more than 5,400 undergraduate students, which is lower than years prior.

“We have room for them,” Plattsburgh State President John Ettling said. “We would love them to come here.”

Whether PSUC sees a spike in enrollment in its near future, the college seems to be preparing for it. Last fall was the grand re-opening of Moffitt Hall after a lengthy makeover. In 2015, Sibley Hall began its two-year, $8 million renovation project. That same year, the bridge that crosses over Broad Street began its construction. Also in 2015 was the beginning of construction on the elevated walkway in the center of campus called the podium, which, at times, has caused water to drip on unsuspecting pedestrians below it. The podium is still being worked on today and is the source of the racket by Feinberg Library. Let’s hope these lengthy, large-scale construction projects aren’t being done in vain.

Renovations are necessary, but they’re also distracting and inconvenient. As a former Hood Hall resident, I regularly heard Moffitt’s construction and had to walk around the building site every time I went to my car in the parking lot behind it.

Navigating Yokum Hall is confusing enough on its own. The months it was under construction practically turned it into a labyrinth.

The loud, irritating noises that ring from these construction projects year-round make living on campus much less appealing. Drilling, hammering and blocked pathways have become second nature to students.

To ease our discomfort in the coming weeks, Vice President for Student Affairs Bryan Hartman issued a notice April 16, to the campus community about the steps that have been taken to reduce the noise level.

“The contractor working on the project ceased all demolition using hammers and drills adjacent to the library,” Hartman said. “Further, they are pausing demolition in all areas after April 21.”
Students will find out in the upcoming weeks whether this will be sufficient in reducing the noise levels. If not, headaches and lower grades may ensue.

The solution to this campus issue isn’t obvious, but at least our college administration recognizes the problem. Perhaps with more attention and proposed solutions, we can find a way to make the renovating process on campus less painful. Until then, we’ll continue living on the never-ending construction site that is PSUC.

Email Steve Levy at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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