Despite discomfort, units in dorms deemed too costly
The first couple weeks of school were almost unbearable due to warmer than average temperatures, especially for those living in non-air-conditioned dorms. Multiple days hit a heat index of 100 degrees or higher. The sweltering conditions led some to question the lack of air conditioning in on-campus residence halls.
Both Dahl and Grantham have seen renovations within the last decade; West Snarr is currently getting a facelift; and all three buildings feature air-conditioned lobbies, common areas and lounges. In the most recent project, students had a voice through informal focus groups and discussions. President Edna Szymanski stated students decided not to pay for air conditioning costs, and they voted on how much they want future students to pay.
“Student vote to tax future students,” she said. “That’s how the revenue fund works. This is not something the administration decides. It’s something we work on with the students.”
During the pre-design process in the fall of 2009, Housing and Residential Life spoke with students and gave presentations to the Residence Hall Association and Student Senate. Housing and Residential Life director Heather Phillips said she didn’t remember air conditioning coming up specifically, but there were several conversations with students, and their input was taken into account throughout the process.
To combat the warm temperatures, some students brought their own air conditioning window units. But the older buildings can’t handle the extra electrical load, so residents were not allowed to use them.
To accommodate students during the extreme heat, the CMU extended its hours to 24 hours a day.
If Housing and Residential Life had decided to install air conditioning throughout the buildings during the renovations, it would have cost roughly $20 per square foot. Dahl Hall is 76,040 square feet, meaning renovation costs would have totaled more than $1.5 million for air conditioning alone.
Given the short period of hot weather during the school year, university spokesman David Wahlberg asked, “How much are you willing to pay for air conditioning?”
BY MEREDITH WATHNE