We’ve all heard it a million times in a million different ways: Construction on campus is annoying. It reroutes students making their way to classes, disrupts lectures and exams, makes the campus aesthetically unappealing, and the list goes on. On the other hand, we should acknowledge that Drexel isn’t just demolishing buildings to mess with students’ routines; the University is working on projects to house more students, update current academic buildings and improve the campus as a whole for future students. The problem is that we’re here now, dealing with the short end of the stick while construction workers work toward the end result. Typically, we can roll our eyes, complain about the inconvenience and go about our days. But this week’s flooding incident in the Handschumacher Dining Center crossed the line.
On the rainy morning of June 3, students who went to the Hans for breakfast saw water pouring through the ceiling panels and flooding the private dining room. The apparent rain damage weakened a couple of panels near the back of the dining area enough for them to collapse. Water leaked from the ceiling in other areas of the dining area as well, creating a mess for anyone in the room at that time.
The Hans is the only cafeteria on campus, and with finals approaching, it’s a go-to spot for students trying to get some grub and study for their exams. What happened Monday was an unpleasant inconvenience and an incident of construction directly impacting Drexel students in a negative way. Worse yet, students could have easily been sitting at the tables in that area of the dining hall at the time of the collapse. We should be able to go about our daily lives on campus without fear of being harmed by the University’s beautification measures.
So while we appreciate the progress being made on campus, we need University officials, contractors and construction workers to be aware of the fact that we’re still here. We still need to be able to function in the campus buildings that remain open while they’re being renovated. The situation at the Hans would be tolerable if we had another dining hall on campus, but we don’t, save for the overflow seating in Behrakis Grand Hall that has been made available since the day of the incident.
With planned upgrades to Hagerty Library, we can’t help but worry that something similar to the Hans incident will happen there. While there are other places to study on campus, the fact that Hagerty is always packed creates a catch-22 with the upcoming construction. We need the renovations so more students can utilize the library’s resources and study space, but we don’t have a suitable replacement while the work is being done. If anything goes wrong, as we experienced with the Hans this week, the University needs a contingency plan so that students aren’t affected. Otherwise we can expect the Learning Terrace to be packed to the gills.
We appreciate of the improvements being made at Drexel, but the University has a responsibility to its students to provide certain services consistently — study space in the library at the very least. And if we can’t trust the University to do this, we must take it upon ourselves to highlight the problems and demand that they be addressed.
In the meantime, students should make a point to be aware of the construction plans for campus and be ready with alternatives just in case things get messy. Clean off your desk in your residence hall or apartment so that if the library has reduced seating and is full, or has a flood or power outage, you’re not entirely out of options. Find a new place on or off campus to relax between classes.
Drexel’s Main Campus is small, and the student body is large, so the damage of our one dining hall and construction of our library is more than a little inconvenient. We call upon University officials to have our backs by providing contingency plans for construction mishaps and not holding the school’s aesthetics in a higher regard than the students’ well-being.