The sound of silence: longing for some peace and quiet

For the three required years of on-campus housing, it is reasonable to expect a setting aligned with the college’s established policies. Photo: Cassandra Martinez

I spent fall semester living in a castle, so I knew that coming back to the Boston would be a challenge. I was excited to move into the Colonial Building, luckily, with some good friends. Living in Colonial as a freshman defined part of my first year in college, so returning felt like coming home.

Except home wasn’t exactly the same as when I left. Now in the morning, I am woken up by loud banging, drilling, and booming—an inharmonious orchestra of construction noise that starts at 7:30 a.m. sharp.

I am not the only one disturbed by the renovations to the Colonial Theatre. My suitemates and other Colonial residents commiserate with me about abruptly waking up to their walls rattling. At first, it was only mildly aggravating. I didn’t expect it to continue at an intense volume until I left for my 10 a.m. class, and I felt confident in my ability to fall back asleep. However, my frustration escalated when the same thing happened the next morning and the morning after. Sleep disruptions aren’t the only problem. Last Thursday afternoon, I went back to my room to work on homework and could not focus on reading the Constitution, even with music blaring through my headphones.

We spend so much of our time in our living environments—studying, hanging out with friends, and sleeping. Ideally, dorms are spaces on campus where we feel the most safe and comfortable. Emerson must be aware of the importance of our living spaces, because the first clause in the Bill of Rights of the Residential Policy states that residents have “the right to read, study, and live free from undue interference, unreasonable noise, and other distractions that inhibit the exercise of this right.”

Of course, noise is unavoidable in some situations, and in the long-term the restored theater will be a great asset to both Emerson and the wider community. I’m looking forward to attending productions in the Colonial Theatre in the future and feel proud of Emerson’s commitment to the arts. The first show, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” is scheduled to open this summer, so this disruption could potentially continue through midterms and finals. A 24-hour quiet policy can only control internal noise.

Part of being a student is understanding the spaces around you are temporary. Living on a campus located downtown results in the environment around us constantly evolving to improve our college experience. But for the three required years of on-campus housing, it is reasonable to expect a setting aligned with the college’s established policies.

In previous years, during repairs to Little Building, residents received an email from the Office of Housing and Residence Life outlining a timeline of construction and the hours it would occur. At the beginning of the year, an email to Colonial residents about updates to the building mentioned the construction noise.

Colonial residents deserve the courtesy of detailed communication about what they’re experiencing and what measures will be taken to ensure we can enjoy our residences to the fullest. The college should be forthright with this information—after all, this is our home.


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One Comment

  1. Unfortunately, construction noise from a building near your apartment, or even on a different floor of your own building, is not limited to college dorms! Many people paying rents “in the real world” suffer from the same issue. Obvious Emerson examples are the apartments in the buildings across Tremont from the LB, and in the buildings next to 2 Boylston Place, but clearly construction noise is a bother for the neighbors of all construction projects everywhere. Not really sure what a good fix is.

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