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The Dartmouth
June 16, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Air conditioning to be in dorms this summer


Students in the Class of 2021 may be happy to learn that they can sleep comfortably in their residence halls this upcoming summer term, without resorting to Dartmouth-provided cots in Sarner Underground. This past week, college officials announced that on-campus housing this summer for the Class of 2021 and other students would be located in the East Wheelock cluster, which consists of Andres, McCulloch, Morton and Zimmerman Halls. Should these residence halls be filled, Hitchcock Hall will open as overflow. All of the East Wheelock rooms are fully air conditioned, while Hitchcock only has air conditioning in the common room.

Each spring term, Rachael Class-Giguere, director of undergraduate housing, said she meets with Catherine Henault, director of residential operations, to decide which residence halls can be opened in the summer. 

“We are really excited this year to be able to use East Wheelock because it would allow us to have air conditioning for students, which we’ve wanted to figure out a way to make work for a long time,” Class-Giguere said.

Although some residence halls, like Topliff Hall, have been consistently open each summer for the past several years, the decision of what dorms to open for the summer can be based on a variety of factors, including ongoing repairs and renovations on campus, according to Class-Giguere and Henault.

Henault said that the only reason East Wheelock was chosen to be open to sophomores this summer is because it is air conditioned.

“The last couple of summers have been so hot and we decided to make it better where we possibly could,” said Henault. “It was strictly just the air conditioning factor.”

The College usually reserves the newer, fully air conditioned buildings in the McLaughlin and East Wheelock clusters for various summer camps and programs during the summer. However, this meant that there were periods of time in which East Wheelock — one of the only set of dorms with air conditioning — was sometimes uninhabited. This year, the decision was made to instead reschedule some of the summer events that would have had campers living in East Wheelock to allow for student use of the dormitories.

“They do have summer programs, but there were blocks of time where buildings weren’t being used,” Henault said. “So we had buildings that were being air conditioned but were empty.”

Though they couldn’t say with certainty, both Henault and Class-Giguere said that they hoped that using the East Wheelock cluster for summer housing would be a permanent one, barring any necessary construction on the residence halls.

“As far as I’m concerned, from the operation view [the students] can stay [in East Wheelock],” Henault said. “The only thing that might make a difference would be if we need to close a building down for renovation.”

Both Class-Giguere and Henault also mentioned that student feedback will be taken into account when making the decision regarding future summer use of East Wheelock dorms after this upcoming summer term.

According to Class-Giguere, the East Wheelock cluster has enough beds to cover the average summer population on campus, but she is unsure whether Hitchcock will have to be opened as overflow.

“This sophomore class is the big class, and we weren’t sure how the availability of air conditioning might affect students’ decisions to sublet,” Class-Giguere said.

They also dispelled the rumor that in the name of equity, the College would only turn on air conditioning for residence halls if all students were in residence halls with air conditioning. 

“None of the buildings we’ve used previously for the summer have had air conditioning,” Class-Giguere said.

She also mentioned a common misconception that both Hitchcock and New Hampshire Halls have air conditioning because of their recent renovations.

Akosua Twum-Antwi ’21 is the undergraduate advisor for Andres Hall, and is deciding between staying at her sorority house, Kappa Delta, and staying in East Wheelock.

She said she stayed at the East Wheelock cluster during her UGA training, and said it was comfortable to live there when the air-conditioning was running.

“I don’t think last year’s situation with Sarner Underground was really good,” she said. “You want to be in your own room and you want privacy, so it will be nice for that to be somewhere with air conditioning.”

Twum said that she had never had any issue with East Wheelock’s location in her day to day life, and she suspected some complaints about the cluster’s location was primarily due to its distance from frat row.

The decision to use the East Wheelock cluster will also impact the early move-in of freshmen during First-Year Trips. While the usual selection of summer dorms avoids any buildings that will be used for freshman housing the following fall, several floors in the East Wheelock cluster will be home to members of the Class of 2023, who usually move in their belongings after their trip sections beginning at the end of the summer term. According to Class-Giguere and Henault, this issue of overlapping housing will likely be avoided through early cleaning of the rooms as they empty, and keeping some freshmen belongings in storage during the transition.

Energy use is another concern for the College. Last summer, Alumni Gym air conditioning shut down during some peak temperatures. Both Henault and Class-Giguere expect similar cutbacks to happen this summer, as they typically do every summer.

“East Wheelock was being air conditioned anyways, so now we can have our students in it enjoying the air conditioning,” Class-Giguere said. “It’s a better use of the energy.”

Though all students in residence halls will be in the East Wheelock cluster, according to Class-Giguere housing community events will still be run by the individual housing communities.