Earlier this summer, the students of the Marriott Honors Community (MHC) experienced an upheaval. For the first time in seven years, students living in the MHC were relocated to other housing on campus, due to the predicted impact of construction that the South Campus Housing & Dining project would bring.
The Housing & Residential Education (HRE) department worked to ensure that every student in need of on-campus summer housing was accommodated for. Then HRE closed the MHC in hopes of not hindering any students’ study during the semester.
Director of Housing at HRE, Rachel Aho, commented on this decision saying, “Each summer we look at how many summer residents we anticipate will be on campus, as well as what summer buildings are scheduled for renovations and what else is happening on campus. So, for the MHC there was construction happening throughout the summer for the new South Campus Housing & Dining project … and if we kept that building open we knew that residents might be impacted by construction noise, reduced parking and increased traffic for deliveries to that site, and we didn’t think that that would be a great living experience for students.”
Aho also spoke about the work HRE did in coordinating with campus partners and the Honors College in making sure to provide advanced notices to all the students living in MHC before the closure.
However, students at the MHC have had a different experience with the closure. Resident assistant (RA) Lily Bosworth, a senior studying geoscience, said, “The MHC closure has inconvenienced students who would have otherwise stayed there, whether they were keeping their same room for two or more consecutive semesters to avoid moving, or just wanted to live in the space for summer.” She also talked about the many minor maintenance issues that MHC has accrued throughout the summer: “There have been a number of small maintenance issues that have accumulated over the summer. These will have to be addressed as students move back in and discover problems that aren’t obvious unless a space is being lived in.”
Although the HRE offices worked in making sure that all students were accounted for and taken care of this summer, the closure of MHC has inconvenienced students across campus. The construction impact of the South Campus Housing & Dining project will continue to affect the lives of students until its prospective completion in fall 2020.
Bosworth touched on these numerous impacts. “We lost parking adjacent to the MHC,” she said, “Which has raised safety and convenience concerns. The nearest parking is now at least a five-minute walk away, which is problematic for residents carrying loads like groceries, or coming and going late at night. The trash chutes have closed for the duration of construction, so residents have to carry trash outside right now. We lost the green, open, community space the soccer field provided. We have to live next to a large construction project, which is noisy, sometimes very early in the morning, an eyesore that blocks what was a stunning view of the Salt Lake Valley, and often is surrounded by gas, fiberglass or welding smells that travel toward our building and greet us as we come and go. Students attending classes in the MHC also have to navigate around the construction, and deal with the noise outside their classrooms.”
With the semester starting in less than a week, students moving back into MHC might experience what Bosworth called “environmental stressors” caused by the immense amount of construction. “Things like having a bedroom window look directly at construction when there used to be mountains, leaving for class each day by walking through a zone that smells like gas and other fumes and is at times overwhelmingly loud and losing the small security net of having parking adjacent to one’s building can add up as environmental stressors”
Aho addressed these issues and spoke of how her office will continue to try and counteract the noise and effects of the ongoing South Campus Housing & Dining project this semester by providing “sleep kits” for students, which include sleep masks and earplugs. They are also providing white noise machines that are available for check out.
Primarily, the students of MHC have been subjected to the effects of the South Campus Housing & Dining project. And with another potential closure for the Summer 2020 semester, the impacts of the construction might only worsen until the project’s completion.
Although this summer, and the upcoming semester, might be tough for the students of the MHC, they have the completion of the ongoing furniture refresh project to look forward to in the coming months. HRE intends to create an updated and enjoyable environment for the students living at the MHC. The HRE offices have been working in coordination with students on this project since last year, getting their input on possible designs for the spaces. The project hopes to refresh the design and furniture of the MHC lounge spaces along with the first floor.
The HRE office has been working on bids for the furniture all summer and hopes to place the order this September, with anticipated installation early this fall. The MHC is expected to be open for regular move-in on Aug. 15, 2019, and remain open all school year.
For more information on the ongoing furniture refresh project at the MHC or the South Campus Housing & Dining project, please contact [email protected].