By Debra Kate Schafe
We might still be deep in a New Jersey winter, but I know a lot of people who are starting to think about the warmer summer months.
Yes, the spring months bring heat and sun; however, students are not only thinking about enjoying beach days and picnics. They want to know just how they are supposed to spend another brutal few weeks in an overheated dorm.
At the College, not a single one of the freshman residential facilities have air conditioning, and for sophomores, only three out of their six on-campus housing options are air-conditioned. Therefore, if you live on campus for at least two years, there is a 50-50 chance that you will be spending upwards of five months in, at times, unbearable heat.
Everyone tolerates temperature differently, but even the coolest person can find a barely 10-by-10 room stuffy in the heat and humidity of September, April and May. You also have to take into consideation that if you’re in a high-rise such as Travers and Wolfe Hall –– each of which are 10 stories, the heat rises and being on the top tier of the building can make a significant difference in just how warm your dorm room is.
Schools around the country who don’t have mandatory air conditioning in their residential facilities often argue that most of their on-campus students aren’t living in their dorms during the peak of summertime heat. I counter that because of the increase in the unpredictability of weather over the last five or so years, the higher temperature days can come early in April and stay until the middle October.
Imagine that on top of the average temperature outside reaching into the 80 or 90 degrees. A handful of fans and cool showers can only do so much when you want to be comfortable and productive in a room that you pay to live in.
Students’ academic performance is affected by their comfort level. They can focus better on their tasks at hand rather than sweat in a classroom that is being cooled by cracked windows, ceiling fans and shut-off lights.
According to a Patch.com, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex/Morris, and Angela McKnight, D-Hudson, introduced a bill that would require all schools to have temperature-controlled classrooms.
Marie Blistan, president of the New Jersey Educators Association President, added a statement to this argument saying, “Extreme temperatures like those that exist in too many of our schools hurt student learning. If we can air condition every movie theater in New Jersey and heat every fast-food restaurant, there is no excuse for failing to modernize our schools in order to give our students the best possible learning environment.”
Students often camp out overnight in the lounge of their residential facility that is lacking air conditioning just to get a bit more of a restful sleep. It can be understandably impossible to sleep well when the air around you is hot and thick, even with fans on high. Why should they feel the need to sleep on the floor of a crowded communal lounge just to get some relief and rest?
Air conditioning in dorm rooms, especially those with little access to fresh air and ventilation through windows, should be mandatory. It will be more beneficial to students’ lives, health, well being and academic performance. Shouldn’t that be exactly what a highly regarded educational institution, like the College, wants for its students living on campus?
Students share opinions around campus
“How did the heat affect your studies?”
“It made me not want to be in my room to study, so I barely studied the first few weeks .”
“It made me focus more on needing to get cool, and less on my studies.”