Sigma Hall residents receive compensation for construction noise
Residents of Sigma hall meet on Monday afternoon with senior director of auxiliary services Don Sims and senior director of facilities management Brian Phillips regarding the noise disturbance they have faced due to the construction of the new dorm. Students affected by the noise received compensation for the inconvenience. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES
About 20 students gathered in Sigma Hall’s second floor lobby to discuss their concerns arising from construction of the new dorm, North Hall, on late Monday afternoon. Senior director of Auxiliary Services Don Sims and senior director of facilities management Brian Phillips, both of whom are involved with construction planning, listened to Sigma residents express their frustration with the noisiness of the construction equipment.
“The whole room would even rattle when we have construction, especially with the jackhammering … so it wasn’t even that I couldn’t sleep, it was that I couldn’t even be in my room because I wasn’t able to do anything,” said freshman computer science major Jonathan Schaumloeffel.
STUDENTS TO RECEIVE REFUND
Sigma residents with room windows facing the construction site will be credited with a $150 housing refund, according to Sims during the open forum meeting.
In addition to the refund, the daily start of construction work was adjusted from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., starting on May 5. This policy was implemented by Phillips to provide residents with two more hours of quiet in the morning. The amended work schedule will remain in effect until a planned 32-inch-thick acoustic sound wall is constructed between Sigma and the construction site, said Phillips.
“We are doing our best to minimize the impact [of the construction] in ways that will not jeopardize the scheduled completion date of the [North Hall] project,” Phillips added through email.
Construction workers were originally slated to build the sound wall before any construction for North Hall began. However, a prolonged plan check process by the County of Los Angeles prevented the sound wall from being built, Phillips said.
Biola gave a similar housing refund of up to $450 to students whose rooms in Alpha and Horton were located within the Lot K parking structure construction zone.
SIGMA RESIDENTS VOICE COMPLAINTS
Senior anthropology major Tanner Michels, who said the construction woke him up at 7:30 a.m. almost daily, posted videos on Sigma’s 2013-2014 Facebook page, illustrating his typical morning experience with the construction.
“I decided to make comedic videos that would show, in a satire type of way, the ridiculousness of the construction being probably five feet from my window,” he said.
Michels also encouraged Sigma residents to voice their concerns and frustrations about the construction noise through Facebook, asking residents to help him picket outside of Metzger. Post-commenters also considered drafting a petition asking for compensation.
SENATOR FIGHTS FOR RESIDENTS
Before a petition could be submitted, sophomore psychology major Brianna Wong, Sigma’s AS Senator for 2013-2014, announced on Sigma’s Facebook page that she emailed the concerns of Sigma residents to the proper authorities and that she would like to act as the “filter” for residents’ interests toward facilities managers.
“I felt that it was my job to at least fight for what people in my dorm wanted. I presented [to the facilities managers] that Horton and Alpha received a refund, and so if it was at all possible, out of their grace, if they would hit Sigma with a refund too,” Wong said.
A few days later, Wong reported on Facebook that Sigma residents would receive a housing refund in their student accounts. Residents reacted enthusiastically to the news and praised Wong for her efforts.
Michels, however, believes the collective voice of Sigma residents prompted the authorities to respond.
“We know that we were heard, and that’s honestly what I feel is most important; that Biola actually took the time to listen to us, to hear us out, and then to actually act upon it,” Michels said.