Amidst construction concerns, Smith Approves plan for new lift system

Photo By Maryellen Stohlman-Vanderveen‘19 | With construction only in its preliminary stages the Neilson Library is already impeding the flow of student traffic and making students late to class.


Maryellen Stohlman-Vanderveen‘19
Staff Writer

New concerns about the effect that the Neilson Library renovation project will have on student tardiness have pushed the Smith administration to approve a plan which will install a new lift system to help students get to class on time during center campus construction. The college approved the new plan for the Smith Student Lift Service in response to both student and faculty complaints about how the current construction project on center campus walkways was making students late for class.

“Quite frankly, it’s been really tough getting to my nine a.m. classes in Seelye,” one first year complained about the current work. “I live on the quad and I’ve been late this entire week. I can’t imagine what it will be like next year once the construction on the library renovation begins.”

“I’ve seen at least a 50 percent increase in student tardiness following spring break,” one Statistics professor whose class meets in Bass Hall said. “I took a small survey to try to figure out why, and I found out that it is mostly my students who live on Elm Street that are being made late by the construction when they cross center campus.”

The Smith administration announced their approval for the lift in a statement published in the weekly Paradise Notes bulletin:

“The college is pleased to announce that the proposed plan for the Smith Student Lift Service has been approved. This plan addresses faculty and student concerns that were raised about potential disruptions to class schedules caused by the Neilson Library Renovation project. Construction has been set to start in June of 2017 following Commencement Weekend and the closing of the college thanks to a generous donation which was provided by an anonymous donor. It is expected to be completed before August 28th and the start of the Fall 2017 semester.”

The final blueprint for the lift system has yet to be released, but based on a report provided by Smith’s Facilities Management, it has been gathered that the project will include two lines of transport. One line will connect Seelye lawn to Chapin lawn while the other will connect Seelye Lawn to the Science Quad. Both lines will pass over the Neilson Library renovation site, and will be capable of carrying students in both directions in order to help ease the flow of traffic on the ground.

The Smith Student Lift Service will also include gondola-style cars to provide students with both warmth and protection from the elements during cold winter commutes to class. Each car is built to transport eight students at a time.

“I have complete faith in the gondola service provided by Smith College, and am pleased to know that Smith is putting its finances into something that directly benefits its students. I am confident that the construction of the gondolas will be complete well before construction on the library ends,” said Abby Weaver ’19 who helped to write the proposal to the administration

Despite the plan’s inclusion of ambient music, comfortable seating and a complimentary beverage service on all rides (complete with hot chocolate, coffee and a selection of teas), not all students support the administration’s decision.

“I oppose most things Smith does and I’m especially opposed to their plan to build a lift system through center campus,” said Be Worrell ’18J. “Death by gondola is all too real. 1 in 800 people die every year in gondola accidents… Actually, that might be mopeds. But my point still stands, Smith’s lift plan sucks.”

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