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LOPEZ-ORTIZ: For students' health, Rutgers must put air conditioners in all residence halls

Column: Food for Thought

Rutgers must provide air conditioning units in all residence halls. – Photo by Alexandre Boucher / Unsplash

Now that spring has officially begun and the weather has become warmer, it brought back memories that reminded me of my experience of move-in day. As a first-year student, move-in day is the first of many memories of your time in college.

Decorating your room, meeting your roommate and exploring campus is the highlight of moving in. Unfortunately, the one thing that people do not tell you is how move-in day and the following weeks are spent in a humid and unbearably hot room.

What was supposed to be a special moment that signified change and a new beginning was overshadowed by the extreme heat and the lack of air conditioning in my room. The heat was unbearable. The only source of coolness was the ceiling fan, which did not do anything to combat the heat.

Even though I came prepared with my own air cooling fan combined with my roommate's fan, it was pointless because we were not able to sleep for two weeks due to the temperature in the room.

I had to buy a second fan since my parents could not believe that a college that they were paying thousands of dollars for lacked adequate air conditioning. In a school that profits from students paying for room and board, the least they can do is offer some sort of air conditioning in residence halls.

As school began, it became harder to stay in our room since the heat made it impossible to concentrate. As I met new people, they would also complain about their rooms being unbearably hot and how the lack of sleep made it difficult to complete their work. The heat was the source of many conversations since it was a universal experience for the students of Rutgers.

This sheds light on a bigger problem how most of Rutgers's residence halls do not have proper or little to no air conditioning. Since most of the residence halls are relatively old, air conditioning was not as advanced as it is now.

While some first-year residence halls such as the Busch Engineering Science and Technology Hall and the Honors College have air conditioning, it is only available to those who are admitted into them. These buildings are newer, so these students have more access to air conditioning than most first-year students.

As a result, this creates a sense of inaccessibility to those who do not have air conditioning. The presence of a working air conditioner should be a requirement in all rooms. Rooms should be a place of rest and refuge, but the scorching heat creates problems that can affect daily performance toppled with a lack of sleep.

Besides the lack of sleep, students that had no air conditioning experienced a decrease in working memory and reactions times, according to a Harvard study, which demonstrates how heat can have detrimental effects on the brain and affects how people can perform in their school work.

I was not able to be in my room for long periods of time since the heat became too much for me to handle, and I felt unmotivated from the lack of sleep. Meanwhile, the study found that overall, students with air conditioning performed better on cognitive tests. This demonstrates that proper temperatures can improve performance, but since we are not getting air conditioning, it greatly alters our performance.

Though, this issue is not exclusive to the Rutgers community. A group of Georgetown University students petitioned online about the lack of air conditioning, and the school responded by giving temporary chillers for students who did not have air conditioning. Even as Rutgers students complain each year, the University has not given any solid solutions to beat the heat during the summer.

Rutgers fails its students by not providing any source of coolness. Alternatives such as air chillers can at least be a temporary solution to this problem, and they do not require every building to be renovated. Students are left to figure out how they will survive the heat, and those who are unable to afford to buy a quality air fan are forced to suffer.

Rather than ignoring its students’ complaints, Rutgers should listen to their students’ needs without students having to create petitions that demand to be heard and offer solutions to beat the heat waves in the summer.

Daisy Lopez-Ortiz is a first-year in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in political science and minoring in Spanish. Her column, "Food for Thought," runs on alternate Tuesdays. 


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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