NU students upset at lack of air conditioning in on-campus housing

2022-10-21 17:28:05 By : Ms. Ruo La

Daily file photo by Joanne Haner

710 Emerson. More than one-third of residential halls and colleges on campus do not have air conditioning. However, these buildings’ structures make it very difficult to include the utility, according to Northwestern Operations and Services. Battery Powered Desk Fan

NU students upset at lack of air conditioning in on-campus housing

Pavan Acharya, Assistant Campus Editor October 20, 2022

McCormick sophomore Jackie Lin recalled the struggle of moving into his residence hall, 2307 Sheridan Road, during his freshman year. That day, he remembered how “sweaty and sticky” he was from the heat. 

“When moving in, (I) just had to carry all those suitcases up all the stairs,” Lin said. “While doing that (I) was huffing and puffing, because it was so damn hot.” 

2307 Sheridan is one of Northwestern’s 13 residential halls and residential colleges without air conditioning that make up more than one-third of all on-campus housing options, excluding Greek life housing . 

NU permits fans in student rooms but not portable air conditioners. Portable air conditioning units demand an electric load that building infrastructure cannot sustain, Director of Operations and Services Jenny Douglas said in an email to The Daily.

But Lin said fans didn’t provide total relief from the heat at the beginning of the year, and opening windows to let in cool air presented different challenges.

“When it’s hot inside, you’re going to be like, ‘I should open these windows,’ but then there (were) gnats right outside my window,” Lin said. 

Lin said gnats sometimes found their way through the window panes into his room and the hallway. 

The lack of air conditioning is not unique to residential halls: SESP sophomore Juliet Rofé said no one in her Delta Delta Delta sorority house slept well the first week of the quarter due to a lack of air conditioning.

Rofé said it was difficult transitioning from living in Schapiro Hall, then 560 Lincoln, last year, which had air conditioning, to living in a space without it. 

“I spent a lot more time in (Schapiro Hall) and it was very comfortable to just hang out in my room,” Rofé said. “Now I am looking for other spaces around campus where I can do my work, because it’s just really uncomfortable feeling super hot all the time.” 

Some former sorority houses on South Campus, now used as University residential housing, are not air conditioned.

Douglas told the Daily that implementing air conditioning in some on-campus housing options is too costly at this time. She added that it would be difficult to add air conditioning to those buildings for structural reasons.

“The buildings that do not have AC do not have the mechanics to be able to support AC — whether it be because the electrical capacity is not enough to carry the burden or because the building is not connected to chilled water,” Douglas said in the email.

For some students, like Weinberg sophomore Deniz Uzun, air conditioning is not much of a necessity. Uzun said she prefers in-room heating over air conditioning.

Uzun also had a negative experience with air conditioning at Schapiro Hall her freshman year. She said each night around midnight, she heard a hammer-like noise from her air conditioning unit for about a minute.

“It sounded as if there were gears inside it and one of the gears had trouble turning at one point,” Uzun said.

She said she was once sick with a fever and had trouble falling asleep because of the noise. 

Despite some grievances with air conditioning on campus, Uzun said the utility is important during warmer weather in late spring and summer.

Rofé said although the heat situation has improved for her as Fall Quarter has progressed, she is worried about the spring. Temperatures reached a high of 91 degrees Fahrenheit in Evanston last May.

She said the University should provide stipends to help students purchase fans and other cooling devices for the warmer months of the academic year.

“That might not make sense to administrators, because (we are in) Chicago and it’s cold for most of the year,” Rofé said. “But there’s a great chunk of the year when you’re super uncomfortable, and if you’re paying so much to live somewhere, it should be comfortable.”

— Students express concerns with housing selection system, propose changes

— Norris to undergo ‘green’ renovation

— Northwestern converts former Greek life housing into residence halls for 2021-22 academic year

NU students upset at lack of air conditioning in on-campus housing

Purifier Filters Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.