In reversal, College turns on air conditioning in some residential buildings

AC has been turned on in ​​Fahey, McLane, Andres and McCulloch Halls; Alpha Phi and Kappa Delta sororities and Chi Heorot fraternity.

by Caitlin McCarthy | 7/16/21 5:10am

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Fahey and McLane Halls are two of the residence halls where air conditioning was turned on at the end of spring.

by Angelina Scarlotta / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

As students continue to live on campus and take classes this summer, the College has chosen to turn on air conditioning in the residential buildings that have the capability in a reversal from the policy announced in May

Before the summer term, the online housing portal informed students that because “so few residence halls available for summer use have the option for air conditioning, the College decided to err on the side of consistency and have all buildings un-air conditioned.” 

Associate vice president of facilities, operations and management Frank Roberts wrote in an emailed statement that as of the end of the spring term, central air conditioning has been turned on in buildings where students are living and air conditioning is available: Fahey, McLane, Andres and McCulloch Halls; Alpha Phi and Kappa Delta sororities and Chi Heorot fraternity. 

In dorms without air conditioning, Roberts wrote, air conditioners were set up “in the main lounge of the building.” He added that students were not assigned to live on the warmer fourth floors of buildings “where possible.” 

As for why the previously-stated air conditioning policy was changed, Roberts wrote that “[o]ver the years, heat waves have become more intense and expectations for living spaces have changed. Consequently, we have adjusted our practice.” 

Roberts wrote that air conditioning was turned on in student-occupied buildings “equipped with AC” in the summers of 2019 and 2020. 

In 2018, The Dartmouth reported that air conditioning was not offered to students in on-campus residence halls during summer term because of equity concerns, and only A Phi, KD and Triangle House had air conditioning. That same summer, cots were set up in Sarner Underground to accommodate students at night during a heat wave. 

The Office of Residential Life’s website states that air conditioners are “not appropriate for use in student rooms.” However, according to the website privately-owned Greek organizations and senior society houses are free to make their own policies. Roberts wrote that students living in residence halls or College-owned Greek houses “can have personal air conditioners if they have been granted an accommodation.” 

This summer, “[t]here has been no uptick in requests” for air conditioners as medical accommodations, he added.

Eli Hecht ’23 said that when he moved into his room in Fahey Hall, he had assumed that there was not going to be air conditioning provided after the College’s earlier announcement, but was pleasantly surprised.

Upon moving in, “there was just a piece of paper up in the doorway … that said, ‘Keep your windows closed, AC is running,’” Hecht said.

Hecht added that he is still happy he has a fan to use in his dorm, but that he is “grateful” for the air conditioning “on the really hot days.” 

Still, not all dorms are fully air conditioned. Roberts wrote that during the heat waves of the past few weeks, “some students have expressed their displeasure that not all of our facilities are air conditioned,” but did not provide an exact number of complaints. 

Vi Tran ’23, who is living in South Massachusetts Hall, a dorm without air conditioning, said that one night it was so hot that she filled up a trash bin with ice and used her fan to create a makeshift air conditioning unit. However, she added that after “one or two weeks” on campus, an air conditioning unit was installed in the common room and that she and her friends began to spend a lot of time there.

“A lot of times, we joked about just sleeping in there,” Tran said.

Ananya Vaidya ’23, who is living in Topliff Hall, a building without air conditioning, said that during days where the heat was “really bad,” she would go to friends’ rooms in air conditioned buildings to cool off. 

Hecht said that a friend from another dorm slept on the floor of his room one night because of the heat.

Tran said that she was able to get a free fan from the College and she has spent more time in the air-conditioned library now that it is open more regularly.

Vaidya said that last week, her UGA informed her floor that there would be fans downstairs provided by the school that students could bring to their rooms. Roberts confirmed that spare fans were distributed in Lord, Mid Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Massachusetts, Streeter, and Topliff Halls.

Since then, Vaidya said she hasn’t heard “too many people complain” about the heat in her dorm.