For the last couple of weeks, the North Avenue Apartments construction work has left hundreds of student residents wishing they could move out into a quieter environment. While the loudest jackhammers will be turned off starting today, work will continue until the end of the semester, making students wonder if all the inconvenience could have somehow been helped.
When Tech acquired the Apartments, which were previously managed by Georgia State, the Institute was not aware of these and other problems that have cost millions to fix. The fact that in 11 years Georgia State had not performed adequate tests and maintenance speaks poorly of its thoroughness and concern for safety. While Tech acted quickly and closely followed standard procedure, there should have been more consideration for how students would be affected.
For one, Housing should have communicated with students as soon as it found out about the problem in June. Students should have been kept updated at all times, especially once it was realized that the solution would have to be implemented right away and would take several months. Instead, Housing waited until the second week of classes to announce the situation—at the same time that construction workers began to climb up scaffolds outside students’ windows.
Given the magnitude of the situation and the potentially detrimental effects on students’ quality of life and academic performance, Housing should also have offered students assigned to the North Avenue Apartments the opportunity to break their contracts without losing their deposit money. Since Tech would not be able to provide alternative housing on campus as it is filled to capacity, Housing should also have made an effort to provide support for students wishing to relocate to off-campus housing.
This type of response is not unheard of. In 2006 when Admissions misestimated the number of accepted students that would come in as freshmen, Housing had to place these students in triple rooms. Due to the inconvenience generated, the affected students were allowed to break their contracts. Such a choice would have been helpful to students who now feel stuck paying for accommodations that are severely falling short of their expectations.
When students sign up for housing, they expect to get what they pay for. Although there is no doubt that Housing had to act quickly to ensure safety and the integrity of the brickwork, more considerate gestures towards residents would have gone a long way in helping students find the home, sweet home they hoped and paid for.