Last week, The Crimson reported that some students in Quincy and the surrounding houses were distressed by the loud noises of construction that often woke them up or bothered them as early as 8 a.m. As Harvard embarks on the decades-long project of House renewal, it is inevitable that this concern will come up again and again as further houses are reconstructed.
Although we sympathize with students losing sleep, we also understand that it’s necessary for construction work to take place in the daylight hours. If the construction were to wait to begin until 10 a.m., when most students are out of the Houses and at class, each renewal project would drag on longer and be much more expensive. That cost is simply not worth saving a bit of noise. Students who are truly concerned about noise at 8 a.m. should perhaps consider choosing rooms farther away from construction in the future; in the short term, they can close their storm windows tightly or pick up a pair of ear plugs.
Of course, there are ways in which the University and Houses could make life a little easier for students waking up in the morning—and make 8 a.m. not seem quite as early. For example, right now, the majority of Harvard’s classes take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This not only makes course scheduling more difficult than necessary, but also ignores the fact that many students wake up much earlier than 10 (and that many others would prefer to take classes in the afternoon). If there were classes and sections available that met earlier in the morning, students waking up at 7:30 could head to class long before construction even started. Of course, making popular classes or required classes meet this early would undoubtedly be unfavorable among students who like to sleep in. Nonetheless, a greater variety of time slots for course offerings would allow early risers to take advantage of small class settings as well as peaceful sleep.
Other than this, students in affected Houses should be able to propose other ways in which the University could do a better job of accommodating students bothered by the noise of construction. For example, although this wouldn’t save anyone sleep, we would like to have a better idea of what exactly is going on in the construction site on a day-to-day basis.
But it’s ultimately important that we get serious about the real issues at play here. If Quincy House and Harvard’s construction plans are determined to wake students up hours before their classes begin, it is an absolute injustice—perhaps even an outrage—to continue to deny them hot breakfast in their home dining halls. And by hot breakfast, we don’t just mean oatmeal and hard-boiled, but something much more assorted and complex. Unfortunately, the administration seems to have made up its mind not to consider the possibility of restoring easily accessible bacon and French toast to upperclass Houses. As we have pointed out many times before, the lack of hot breakfast is totally and utterly unfair. Especially in these exceptional times, Harvard should really, really, really think of ways to bring back hot breakfast to the Houses.
Being rudely awoken before one’s alarm clock can be a frustrating and exhausting experience, especially for college students who may be getting less sleep than they should be already (and for those who can’t even experience the simple human pleasure of eating scrambled eggs with their toast in the morning). However, we remain confident that with a few accommodations made by the university, students should not have to view construction sites near their homes with antipathy.
Of course, there will always be those who object to waking up at 8 a.m. The Crimson is not your mother, but we would like to give this one piece of advice to any students worried about losing sleep over the Quincy construction: Go to bed earlier.