Dear Lou Anna,
[fence]This fall at MSU, the temperature and the color of the leaves aren’t the only things changing. Although the new school year is well underway and students are all settled into their living situations, the construction on the Snyder/Phillips dormitory is far from complete. The university has commissioned outside workers and indirectly asked for the patience of students and faculty during the renovations of the dilapidated dorms. With the growth of MSU’s campus comes a need to update the university due to extensive student use and abuse, and the resulting large chain link fences, orange signs and a soundtrack of crashes and clangs accompanying this construction are hard to miss.
In the northeastern part of campus, the familiar cluster of dormitories has been uprooted, and Snyder/Phillips hall will stay closed for the remainder of this academic year. The current renovations include making room for an innovative dining service venue. A three-story dining structure will be built: it will include a main floor dining area opening to a second floor gallery and four other conference rooms with room for up to 25 students each. Renovations of the dormitories, including the dining service, began in May and are projected to be completed and ready for occupants in August 2007. This new dining setup should serve as a model for the other dormitories; it will encourage more students to purchase meal tickets, which will then bring in money for the university. Dorm food has a traditionally bad reputation, and this new dining area will entice eaters to come try it. Although the same basic foods will be served, this is a clever ploy that just might work.
For this project, the MSU Board of Trustees appointed Christman Co. as the main construction manager for the renovation project. Christman Co. is working along with Superior Electric of Lansing, T.H. Eifert Plumbing and Heating and others to ensure the quality of the project. To give these companies necessary work space, pedestrians and rushed drivers have to divert their routes around the large project, leading to increased traffic on other campus paths. And, L.A., even you know that the traffic on campus is one thing that shouldn’t become more congested. Despite these inconveniences on the roads and newly-paved bike paths, the finished project will bring a duo of dorms that are necessarily updated and ready for residents next fall.
[blocker]Business sophomore Julie Moss has to put up with the construction on a daily basis as a resident of Cedar Village apartments. The complex, located off Bogue Street, is directly across the street from the origin of the pounding and hammering that comes with a construction site. Students who live close by are often wakened by the noise or have to take unfamiliar routes to class to accommodate the work. However, many realize it is all for a good and worthy cause.
“The noise occasionally wakes me up, but I think that’s really because I am a light sleeper,” Moss said. “I have to take some weird routes to class, but when I walk by and see all that construction going on, I would think it would be a lot louder then it really is. I’m sure the new stuff being put in will look great and it’s all worth it.”
Christman and the co-companies are rising with the sun and staying until mid-evening to make sure the project is completed on time, with most staying 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. That might sound like a lot of hours, but these dorms need improvements quickly to make sure MSU provides its students with the best living situations possible.
“I can tell you that we are averaging approximately 140 trades people on each site day, and they are working hard six days a week,” said Pete Kramer, vice president of Christman Co. “The project is scheduled to be completed in two huge phases and we’re more then excited for these renovations to be completed.”
[other] Snyder/Phillips will be the third residence hall at MSU to be renovated within the past 10 years. The Mason/Abbot complex was modernized in August 1997 and Shaw Hall in August 2002. The residence hall maintenance needs were identified through a complete facility assessment that was done for all University housing. With the many, many campus buildings, a procedure like this is necessary to ensure roofs don’t cave in during a chemistry lab or pipes don’t burst while an economics professor is mumbling about free trade. In addition to the updated dining area, the Snyder/Phillips project includes upgrading the community restrooms, replacing windows and fire alarms, adding an emergency generator and an indoor sprinkler system and upgrading the electrical and building ventilation system.
“We try to improve accessibility and overall life safety,” said Sharri Margraves, manager of the MSU Housing and Food Services Construction, Maintenance & Interior Design division. “We did an assessment on all of the residence halls and it was determined that this one was next on the list.”
Although this project requires a large amount of money from the university, it is money well-spent, L.A., as it will provide safety for the large amount of future residents. The construction project is estimated to cost $18 million, which is expected to be financed through a tax-exempt bond, with additional funding from the Division of Housing and Food Services. [bubble]
With the renovation of Snyder/Phillips, the university must find a way to make up for all that lost living space. Approximately 630 students occupied the Snyder/Phillips dorms before the project began. We’ve all heard the horror stories of three students packed into a room just big enough for two: the microwave doubles as a mini-desk and storage space for stolen cafeteria cups, and someone’s bed lies on the middle of the floor. Fortunately, a system was developed to make sure these students were fairly accommodated, according to Margraves.
“We reduced the number of available single rooms in the entire system in order to accommodate students who wanted to live on campus,” said Margraves. “We made sure that these students had top priority as far as selecting a hall of their choice.”
While many students anticipate the arrival of the newly remodeled dorms and brand new dining gallery next year, a large number of students experienced shifts in their living situations this year to deal with the displaced students. History junior Jeff Pinkston was ready to reserve a single dorm room this year but learned that would not be possible because of the current renovations. Pinkston lived in an apartment last year and he was ready for the perks of dorm life.
“Living in the dorms is so much better as far as location and food availability goes,” Pinkston said. “I was planning on living in a single so I could have more space to myself and get more stuff done, but I guess that other students needed places to live, so it makes sense in the long run.” [light] He now lives in another dorm with a roommate he previously didn\’t know.
The Snyder/Phillips renovation may be an inconvenience to some, but it is a necessary step to preserve the safety of the student body. Yes, the roads are blocked and an alternative route might be necessary. Yes, the noise is loud and might wake students up in the morning. However, the final product will make people forget about those distractions and appreciate improved dorms for many years to come – especially dorms with working fire alarms.

Sincerely,
Hammer A. Way

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