Students see temperature troubles in residence halls

By Michelle Gilbert

Students in residence halls are finding ways to cool off during summer and winter months that could cost the university lots of money.

Residents of Douglas Hall found themselves leaving windows open during the Spring 2005 semester because of intense heat in the rooms.

This semester, Grant Towers South residents had to cope with humidity in rooms.

“Sometimes it just gets really humid in the room … One night we left the refrigerator open to cool down the room,” said Katie Prendergast, a freshman undecided major and resident of Grant South.

Michael Stang, director of residential operations, recommends “bringing a fan.” Even in winter months, many factors can influence the heat of a residence hall room: water piping through the building, how well windows are sealed and air circulation.

Hot air rises, so top floors may be hot while bottom floors may be cold.

“We want students to be comfortable in their living arrangements,” Stang said.

Keeping a fan in the residence hall rooms helps keep air circulating.

Some residence hall rooms may also have a Microfridge located in front of the radiator. In some cases, students find the Microfridge a good place to rest televisions and DVD players. Such appliances blocking the radiator, however, can have an effect on air circulation.

During the fall, temperatures tend to change from day to day. It is difficult for residence halls to switch quickly from cooling to heating.

The same piping is used in Stevenson Towers for both heating and air conditioning, said Kevin Vines, chief engineer at the heating plant. Grant Towers and Douglas, Lincoln and Neptune halls have no air conditioning, only heat in winter.

“It’s not like where you can turn the heat on or off [in your house],” Stang said.

Because of piping and the size of residence hall buildings, heat in the halls is usually not turned on until Housing and Dining is sure it will stay cold for awhile. Similarly, in the spring, the air conditioning is not turned on until Housing and Dining is sure the weather will remain hot for the summer.

“We have to have the air conditioning on permanently until Housing and Dining turns the heat on for the winter … It’s a problem for some rooms because of maintenance … There is something physically wrong with their air conditioner,” said Andrea Gruger, a junior communication and media studies major.

Stang also said if students have an issue with the heat or coldness of their room, they can check the temperature and call the Work Request Office at 753-4948.

Each residence hall has a temperature gauge at the front desk.

A problem such as this is a lot easier to fix when identified with a specific room, floor or in certain cases, a specific tower, Stang said.

“We try to hit a midpoint so everyone can be as comfortable as they can,” Stang said.