By Hope Bolinger | Echo
Window fan armies drown all noises by Olson and Wengatz. Further down the sidewalk leads to another dorm without air conditioning: English.To the right, see Gerig and Breuninger. Both have air conditioning.
According to the Taylor website, 225 women live in English and 300 students apiece stay in Olson and Wengatz. That means 825 students endure sweltering heat in August, September and the tail end of spring.
Last year, senior Jori Hanna, an English resident, conducted a study for her Communication Writing Essentials class. Of the 1787 students living on campus, 46 percent of them last year lived without air conditioning.
Several of them deal with allergy-related issues. Senior Maureen McGauran, an Olson resident, has had to adapt all her years at Taylor in non air-conditioned dorms.
"I have a lot of allergies," McGauran said. "So (with) having the windows open, I notice a difference. I eventually got used to it."
Hanna also had to adjust to living in the sweltering conditions of English, which inspired her to research the possibilities of air conditioning and the effects of its lack. Of the 61 students surveyed, 57 percent said they preferred to study in their rooms over all other places on campus and 76 percent of the total surveyed said they best studied in an environment between 68 and 76 degrees.
Less than 10 percent of the respondents felt comfortable studying in rooms without air conditioning.
"If you can't study in your room, that kind of defeats the purpose," Hanna said.
She had heard rumors English would have to be torn down entirely to be able to incorporate air conditioning.
However, Hanna found a loophole in the International Mechanical Codes Appendix J.
It states, "When the total area ... exceeds 50 percent of the area of the dwelling unit, the work shall be considered as a reconstruction … (except in) work areas in which the alteration work is exclusively plumbing, mechanical, or electrical …"
Hanna said air conditioning would fit under the mechanical category, especially when using a wall-mounted air conditioning system.
Some areas of the three dorms do have air conditioning, such as Wengatz Hall Director Josh Craton's apartment. He invites students to stop in to catch a relief from the heat.
"We like to say that people choose to live in Wengatz for the community, not the amenities," Craton said. "Certainly A/C would be a nice amenity, but in the end it's all about the community for us. Lack of A/C has a weird way of bringing people together at the beginning of the year."
Although this does provide a good opportunity for students to bond, wings such as BroHo and FOSO still foster a strong community while enjoying the amenity of air conditioning for the same housing cost as those in Wengatz.
Furthermore, Hanna's research shows that 58 percent of students surveyed prefer to sleep in a cold room. Hall Director apartments would have a difficult time fitting hundreds of residents in the various residence halls, especially during sleeping hours.
I suggest the following solutions.
One: Put air conditioning in the three dorms either through a wall mounted Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system or through extensive duct work in an Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. The latter is cheaper but would require more renovations.
Two: If for some reason Taylor cannot provide air conditioning, they should offer a discount off the room and board cost for anyone living in English, Olson or Wengatz. It is not fair for students to be paying the same tuition and not receive the same amenities.