Mason Begins Fall Semester with New Construction, Safety Measures in Place

Posted: August 27, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

students moving in
Change is a constant at Mason: Students returning to campus this fall will find new construction and new safety measures in place.

By Dave Andrews

After a summer away from campus, many students and faculty will discover several new developments — some obvious and some not so obvious — at Mason this fall. Among the most notable changes, housing has expanded and safety measures have become more extensive.

Construction Adds Residents

The most obvious change to the Fairfax Campus has been the $75 million development in the northeast sector. As Mason’s largest construction project to date, the Northeast Sector Development is an integral part of a master plan enabling continued growth.

“There have been periods when we’ve had a large amount of buildings under construction, but in terms of dollars, we’ve never seen growth of this magnitude,” says Tom Calhoun, vice president of facilities. “The main difference is the housing construction.”

Seven new buildings are being constructed in response to growing enrollment trends. Of the seven buildings, five are multistory residence halls, while one will be an exhibition-style dining facility, and the other will be an additional fitness center.

lounge in a new residence hall
A lounge in the new residence hall awaits students.

Two of the housing buildings are completely finished and approximately 360 students moved in last week. Once all five residence halls are fully operational in the summer of 2008, Calhoun says student housing will have increased by approximately 25 percent.

Students in the new residence halls will soon be able to dine in a wood-fired pizza and pasta restaurant and refresh themselves in a new coffee house. A convenience store will also open in the northeast sector to meet residents’ needs. In an online survey, students voted on healthy groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, toiletries and other items they would like to see at the new store.

corner pocket game room
The Corner Pocket is a game room in the new housing complex.
Photos by Nicolas Tan

Another move-in is taking place this fall, as the Child Development Center (CDC) moves to its new location in the northeast sector. After more than 16 years of operating out of three trailers at Patriot Village, the CDC has its own 82,000-square-foot facility. For the first time, all of the classrooms for children ages 2 to 5 will be under the same roof.

The new location provides two playgrounds — one for older children and one for younger children — a multipurpose room and a more accessible drop-off/pick-up area.

For years, the CDC has filled to capacity. The new building will be able to accommodate twice the number of children, allowing 120 to enroll.

Safety at Mason

The university has introduced Mason Alert, a new information system designed to give students, faculty, staff and members of the community immediate access to emergency announcements, notifications and updates.

Once registered, individuals will be able to receive messages by e-mail or text message over a cell phone or PDA. The messages can quickly relay information about security or safety threats, evacuations, severe weather, transportation issues, building closures and delayed or early closings.

Those registering for the service will automatically receive all university-wide emergency notifications, but will be able to choose which other alerts they want to receive. Registration for the service can be done online at or by texting the keyword “Mason” to 411911 on their cell phone.

As an additional safety measure, Mason’s Board of Visitors recently adopted a policy that prohibits Mason students and employees (with the exception of law enforcement officers) from bringing weapons onto campus. The measure also prevents members of the community from entering any campus buildings and/or facilities or attending any event on campus with a weapon.

Renovations Update Facilities

In addition to housing, two renovation projects on the Fairfax Campus offer improvements for the Mason community. The Aquatic and Fitness Center is putting the finishing touches on its 26,000-square-foot addition. Once the Fitness Center reopens in mid-October, patrons will enjoy, a new weight room and equipment, as well as additional locker rooms.

One of the oldest buildings on campus, West Hall, is ready after more than 90,000 square feet of space was renovated. The renovation focused on mechanical, electrical, security, fire safety, audiovisual and computer system upgrades.

“I’m never completely satisfied, but on the whole, we’re doing well,” Calhoun says of the campus developments. “Despite the challenges that always come up when you have this much construction going on, it’s exciting to see the many changes happening at Mason.”

Shuttle, Shuttle Everywhere

The Mason-to-Metro shuttle, which began service in January, has extended operations this fall. The shuttle will run between the Sandy Creek shuttle stop to the Vienna Metro station from 6:15 a.m. to 11:45 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The shuttle will run from 6:15 a.m. Friday to 3:45 a.m. Saturday, and from 8:45 p.m. Saturday to 3:45 a.m. Sunday.

To accommodate the parking needs of freshmen, a new 900-space gravel lot off Braddock Road on the west side of campus has been built. A free shuttle runs between the east and west sides of the campus to carry drivers back and forth.

The shuttle stop for the new lot is off Rapidan River Lane, near the Mason Softball Complex. The shuttle will operate from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday, though hours are subject to change. The shuttle will have stops at the Field House, the CUE Bus stop, Presidents Park circle and the Sandy Creek Parking Deck.

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