Construction on the Hinman Dining Hall has been extended through 2021, yet no major announcements have been made since the construction’s expected completion date got quietly pushed back.
The Hinman Dining Hall was originally supposed to be completed in fall 2020, but at some point last semester, plans apparently changed. James Brice, associate director of operations and crisis at Binghamton University, wrote in an email that “additional complexities” have been added to the construction plans, and that there is no delay — a statement that is both confusing and seemingly inaccurate. These new undertakings remain unknown, and it’s unclear why new work is being taken on so late in construction, which was originally set to complete in the fall of this year. The Editorial Board cannot determine if these modified plans reflect on flawed or incomplete estimates from the construction’s inception, but the possibility cannot be ignored.
What is clear is that the longer construction on the Hinman Dining Hall goes, the more nuisances students have to endure. Students have reported that construction, which is supposed to begin around 7 a.m. each morning and end by 3:30 p.m., has been starting earlier in the day than what was agreed upon, waking up those in proximity to the work as heavy construction vehicles arrive. While this is happening, most of Hinman College’s grounds remain inaccessible to students, including the Hinman Quad, which is surrounded by black fencing. The construction also impedes foot traffic between central campus and Lot M, Mountainview College, Susquehanna Community and Hillside Community. Similarly, the construction inconveniences students looking for a meal, as Hinman College residents have been redirected to the Appalachian Collegiate Center and College-in-the-Woods Dining Hall, which have seen greater use from students since the renovations began. This creates long lines for food and requires those living in Hinman College to walk further distances than students in other living communities. For students looking to find housing next semester, these factors may seriously influence their decision.
Because of these inconveniences, it’s crucial that the University quickly and effectively communicate with the student body about any changes in the construction schedule, but that hasn’t happened. Members of Pipe Dream’s staff only broke the story about the Hinman College construction delays after observing changes to the construction timeline on BU’s Physical Facilities website. The University never made an official announcement regarding the setback, and most viewers would likely not notice the subtle date change online.
This lack of communication about delays is reminiscent of the construction in the University Union Undergrounds, which only opened to the public this week after the completion of construction was delayed for more than two months to Feb. 10. Initially, the space was supposed to open on Dec. 1. This pattern is concerning, even though the Union basement construction did not have the same obstructive nature as that of Hinman College and its renovation. While the Hinman Dining Hall is reconstructed, its residence halls are also being cycled into renovation each year as part of Residential Life’s plan to slowly revitalize older residential halls on campus, one building at a time. But construction on Cleveland Hall of Hinman College has also been delayed for unspecified reasons, introducing further confusion into the mix. These delays and lack of announcements, along with Brice’s confusing statements on the state of the Hinman Dining Hall project, are demonstrative of a larger problem of communication between administrators and the campus community.
This isn’t the first time the Editorial Board has criticized the University for its lack of transparency and conversation with students, faculty and staff. Although it may be difficult for a large institution like BU to be transparent about everything going on in its campus, small opportunities for transparency, like in the case of construction delays, are important because they can help build trust between the administration and the student body.
It’s easy enough to make information about changing timetables public, so there’s little reason why the administration would choose to keep it under wraps. The Editorial Board calls on the University’s administration to work on their transparency if they value having trust with their students — unless they seek to delay that, too.