Late last semester, the Student Life Room in the Campus Center got a brand-new piece of electronic equipment: a decibel monitor. Students at the centers were nonplussed. Even though the Campus Center was originally designed to be for student use and relaxation, the building has provided office space to a variety of staff departments at UMass Boston since it first opened. Offices need to keep the noise level down. Students having fun sometimes amp it up. What's a campus to do?

Staff workers who work in the open spaces want the building to quiet down. The open space between the front and back halves of the building is like a noise chimney, with conversations on the Upper Level audible a floor or two up. When the noise level isn't too high, you can even make out complete conversations. Note to lovebirds: the Healey Library has more soundproofing.

Many students want the Campus Center to become what it was originally designed for: a haven for students and student life. More clubs and centers would have space, sponsor activities, and provide an atmosphere that welcomes students to be a little less serious every now and again.

Unfortunately, space is still at a premium. While new buildings are under construction on campus, they won't be finished for at least a year. When they are finished, older buildings will be closed down, either for long-term rebuilding or short-term demolition.

Right now the campus faces a problem: we have more students than ever. More students means more people taking up more space and making more noise. Barring adding a proposed new minor in ninja stealth -- you don't find them, they find you -- this will keep getting worse.

As enrollment has gone up faster than originally planned, the administration needs to ramp up solutions for the space issue. Students need space to kick back and relax, especially if we want the campus to be a destination for students in the first place. Reconstruction in other buildings to make more office space would free up the Campus Center to be more like its originally-planned funhouse self. Maybe safe parts of the Upper Level under some buildings might be usable, at least in the interim -- preferably with lighting that mimics sunlight.

One interim solution will be glazing the Student Life Room, adding glass to cover the current railings. This would provide some desperately-needed soundproofing. Until then, much though I hate to say it, we all need to get along. Cramped space means we have to be more polite just to be as civil. I don't like idea of the decibel monitor. Still, we are remarkably good at coming together for a common cause here on campus; for the short term, let's try to keep it down.

For the long term? Ninja classes please!

 

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