Let’s play word association… Ready? Go: Academic… College… University… Higher Education… Acoustics! Did you picture the big wood paneled lecture hall filled with hundreds of students engaged in a lecture about world history, literature, or archeology? Yeah, me too… or at least that what I used to picture.
Recently I visited a dormitory used as on campus student housing for a large university. As I walked the halls I couldn’t help but realize that my little word play above couldn’t be more off as Jerry Springer was blaring from a TV in one room, Flo-Rida from another, and even someone’s alarm clock that didn’t or wasn’t shut off for several minutes… Hardly the image conjured up when you started reading, huh?
The reality is that student housing is very important; it’s where the students go to relax, sleep, and study, but has anyone ever considered acoustics? In the case of my visit we were there to review some noise transfer issues and it was great to see our client moving proactively towards solutions for the future, but admittedly we all think first about those beautiful lecture halls. I’m not saying that they aren’t important; I am saying that we should also be thinking about the places where students spend a large portion of their time: their dorm rooms.
I’m not sure if it qualifies as PTSD or not, but walking those halls filled me with so many memories about my dorm experience, both good and bad, and now given my vocation I really started to focus on the acoustic memories of that experience. I can remember the guy in the room next door would always leave his TV on 24-7 and I would have to fall asleep to the noise of it next door. I would always ask him to turn it off and he’d get upset if I turned it off while he was gone; he’d always say that he didn’t want to miss anything… It was a “if a tree falls in the forest” kind of quagmire with him. I can remember my suite-mate’s random alarm clock that never seemed to go off in the morning to get him to class but would be buzzing away at random times every afternoon regardless if he was in his room or not. I can remember that after getting into the routine of schedules that you could tell who was going to make it to a class based on if/when I heard their door slam while I was trying to study early in the morning (I chose early because those actually were the quietest times… I still didn’t know I’d be an acoustical consultant).
Of course, budgets are limited and housing typically gets the last look, but I’m saying that a qualified acoustical consultant should still give them a look because we can provide some cost effective solutions that will improve the quality of student life on your campus. My hat’s off to our client who is being proactive about it; it’s good to see the focus open up to the entire student experience while on campus.