While most students are enjoying the warm spring weather, others are complaining. They’re not necessarily mad that it’s hot, they’re upset because air conditioning in North Complex isn’t turned on.
Freshman Sarah Wood said she asked when students living in the dorms could expect to lower their room temperatures.
“I was told North Complex will turn on their air after there are 10 consecutive days with a low of 60 degrees,” Wood said.
Because the situation affects so many students, freshman Cienna Boylan said she was confused why the university hasn’t said when the air will be turned on.
“I feel this is a matter that should have been announced to everybody living in the dorms,” Boylan said.
Associate Dean of Student Life Phil Covington said the reason why the air conditioning hasn’t been turned on in North Complex is because of the system used to heat and cool the building.
“The residence halls’ air regulating systems don’t act the same way as the ones in your houses,” Covington said. “Each year we turn the heat on and off once, and we turn the air on and off once.”
The buildings are heated from air coming from boilers. The hot air is not only pushed through the vents to warm the buildings, but it’s also used to heat the water for showers and washing machines. On March 22, the heat was turned off, but the boilers are still being used for hot water. When the weather reaches a certain degree consecutively, all heating and cooling is switched to an electrical system, which is when the air conditioning is turned on.
“We have to look at the forecast and the long-term,” Covington said. “It’s about balancing the days of discomfort — if we turn the air on and it gets cooler outside, then we’ll have people complaining about how cold it is. With the weather irregularities, we always hear grumbles reversed.”
Covington said Coyote Village and McFadden are controlled individually, but because North Complex and some of the other residence halls are old, it would cost too much to make the transition to the newer system.
“It’s too expensive to convert all the rooms,” Covington said. “Students wouldn’t be able to afford it and I definitely wouldn’t want to put anyone through financing that. It would be a culmination of costs to install, as well as the utility cost when students could manage it on their own.”
All the rooms in North Complex have their own thermostats, but because the building is heated and cooled on the same system, the thermostats can’t change much.
“Students have the ability to control within reason, but it kind of gives students the false sense of being able to control the temperatures,” Covington said.
Covington said the university monitors the weather forecast, but there are only two days within the next 10 that are expected to reach 70 degrees or higher. Covington said the university will turn on the air conditioning system once it looks like the warm weather will stay for good.