Queen Street beast rattles Hampton U. campus

By Jade Banks





That is the sound of a black 40-foot-tall, 205-ton crane as it punches the ground with the type of fury seen between enemies.

The sound bounces off the surrounding buildings and echoes throughout campus. The sound’s range stretches south to the waterfront and disappears beneath the Chesapeake Bay and ends east behind Armstrong Stadium.

As people venture near Queen Street on the campus of Hampton University they come face to face with the beast behind the metal fence.

The crane not only belches noise, but it causes the ground to tremble.

Students and faculty inside Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications next door feel the floor beneath their feet shake. Whether they’re sitting at computers or sleeping in their dorm rooms in White Hall, students endure the constant banging from the construction of the new student cafeteria.

Every morning I wake up to that annoying banging sound,” said Jolanda Gilbert, a senior Education major and White Hall resident. “I don’t even need my alarm clock anymore.”

Construction of the new student cafeteria won’t officially begin until next year according to the university, yet cranes and construction workers have been working on the site. Although the workers for the most part are keeping mum on their reason for being at the site when questioned by student journalists, their activity isn’t.

The constant noise has proven to be an inconvenience to the neighbor buildings.

 Over the past two months Scripps Howard School has experienced a handful of electrical outages due to the construction that has resulted in canceled classes and apparent damage to audio-visual equipment.

“More than likely the construction workers are hitting a series of wires and it’s causing the constant outages,” said Perry Otto, Ph.D., the scenic and technical director of the Theater Department. “It’s perfectly normal in situations like this, just a little annoying.”

Construction work has also caused major power outages in dorms on campus, including White and Holmes halls. The outages caused electrical sparks in sockets and resulted in several televisions, radios, computers, DVD players and other electrical devices being destroyed.

“I remember that morning, waking up to this burning smell,” said Gilbert. “There were some sparks, but my surge protectors protected my stuff.”

Aside from the damage to personal belongings and loss of sleep time, the incessant daytime banging may be detrimental to the students.

“The constant banging can affect hearing,” said junior nursing major Ericka Keeling. “Depending on what decibel, it could have a damaging effect, especially if you hear it every day.”

The construction noise at the Queen Street site ranges from 90 to 96 decibels, said a construction worker who declined to give his name.

According to the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, workers should only be exposed to construction noise with levels ranging from 90 to 95 decibels for only four hours without hearing protection.

Workers at the cafeteria construction site often can be seen working with bright orange headgear covering their ears.

But what about the hearing of students who are exposed without headgear to the banging heard from classrooms and dormitories?

Aside from the students’ well being, what about the surround dorms that experience trauma due to the constant shaking?

Torenzo Blair, a freshman Theater major who once was employed as a construction worker, said that the surrounding buildings may be experiencing some kind of damage.

“Depending on how it was built, the constant banging can cause damage to buildings like Scripps Howard,” said Blair. “It may not show any damage now, over time they might have a problem.”

The writer is a senior at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications