Amid wave of on-campus construction, students and faculty voice complaints

A green barrier closes off the path to Stanford Residential College while the Knight Recital Hall is under construction. Students say they are frustrated by the construction detours on campus. Photo credit: Harvey Duplock

The 2021-2022 academic year has seen an uptick in new buildings and new construction on campus, with the Frost Institute for Chemistry and Molecular Science set to open in the fall. The Knight Recital Hall is taking shape, and the new Centennial Village, a housing village for first-year students, is expected to start construction following the demolition of Hecht Residential College in May.

While the campus community is welcoming the new buildings, some inconvenienced students and faculty say the construction sites are blocking paths and disrupting classes.

Geethika Kataru, a junior political science and motion pictures major, said she dreads the long walks that have resulted from the construction.

“I know that they’re building a recital hall for the Frost School, which I’m sure will be great, but I really wish it didn’t interfere so much with the Hecht and Stanford residents’ everyday life,” Kataru said.

“They should’ve done everything possible to not block the walkways,” said Jarrod Maloney, a senior meteorology major. “Crossing campus is far more inconvenient, and I have to go out of the way because of the blocked paths.

The ongoing construction is also affecting classroom instruction, some professors say.

“I feel like I have to yell,” said English professor Samantha Phillips, who teaches at Dooly Memorial, which is right across from ongoing construction of the Frost Institute. “And students who have attention issues to begin with have struggled more, and they have mentioned that to me.”

Phillips said it would be better for class instruction if construction did not happen during class times.

Construction projects will continue for the next several years, said Jessica Brumley, vice president for Facilities Operations & Planning.

“As the university approaches its centennial anniversary, the university will continue to improve its existing facilities and construct new capital projects,” Brumley said in an email statement.

The Knight Center for Music Innovation is expected to be completed in spring 2023, Brumley said. Hecht will close in May followed by Stanford in May of 2024, then Centennial Village’s first two residential colleges, and a new dining hall will open in the fall of 2024. Finally, the last three residential colleges are expected to open in the fall of 2026.

Students have complained about the diminishing housing options while construction continues. The university, however, says it will work to provide housing to all interested students.

“Although there will be less housing available on campus over the next four years, the university remains committed to working closely with sophomores and upperclassmen to accommodate housing needs for all students approved for university housing,” Brumley said.