By Kyle Alden Smith
Campus News Co-Editor

As the new school year begins, multimillion-dollar projects on some of the campus’s oldest buildings are affecting the way people live and work.

Refurbishment projects at Cowell/Stevenson Dining Hall, the Cowell Student Health Center and Porter College residences have relocated — but not reduced — services available to students. Still, at Cowell College, the lack of a dining hall is a big shift for students.

“It was very convenient to have a dining hall here,” third-year Cowell student Satya Chima said, . “I think it is very unfortunate that it’s not there right now because it is going to be difficult for freshman to be social and relate to each other.”

The work has been underway since May. It began as an upgrade for the kitchen and dining area, but was expanded to include “major seismic shoring up of the footings,” according to Jim Carter, Cowell College administrative officer.

“As we had yet more students at Cowell, the kitchen and servery were not able to handle the crowds [and were] having some safety issues,” Carter said. “We are hoping that come spring quarter we will be able to eat at a newly refurbished dining hall.”

In addition to seismic work, the upgrades will include reinforcing the roof, the addition of an elevator to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and a setup to allow dining on the patio.

The Cowell administration worked during the summer months to try to let students know of the dining hall closure and prepare for other options. In order to accommodate the dining needs of students, the university has opened the Merrill Cultural Center as a temporary dining hall for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday.

Students, however, have had mixed reactions about the closure.

“I don’t want to eat because I don’t want to walk,” first-year Cowell student Kenna Eames said. “I definitely would eat more if it were closer. [Cowell] is still the best college though — it doesn’t matter.”

On the other side of campus, another project has changed the face of Porter College.

The B building residence at Porter, now wrapped in giant white plastic sheets, has been under construction since early August. When completed, the building will have seismic upgrades, modern room facilities and an additional floor, adding 158 bed spaces to the building.

“Porter students knew what was going on,” said Michael Yamauchi-Gleason, Porter College administrative officer. “And really the additional bed spaces are going to be benefiting our students.”

The B building is slated to open for the fall 2009 quarter, at which time a similar project will begin on A building to add two new floors to it.

In order to manage the lack of available bed spaces during the project, the college took in only approximately 300 new students, when they regularly take approximately 450, according to Yamauchi-Gleason. Other campus colleges absorbed the students who would have been living at Porter.

Both of the college administrative officers were confident in the necessity of the projects and said that they had received no significant negative feedback about the construction.

“It is an inconvenience, there is no doubt about it, and we appreciate people’s patience,” Carter said. “But we need to do the project.”