This past month, there were a number of nights during which residents in the Townhouse Apartments complained of a lack of heating within the complex. According to Assistant Dean of the College and Director of Residential Life Jennifer Adams, these September nights usually hover around 50 degrees. But a brief cold spell, which saw nighttime temperatures into the thirties, was more than unpleasant for those walking in sandals home from Case Library late at night.
“When the temperature dropped to near freezing, my housemates and I closed our windows and donned our warmer clothing,” says Townhouse resident junior Jeremy Bennett. “The cold blast this month should’ve been handled differently. The students in the townhouses should’ve been given the right to turn on the heat.”
Buildings and Grounds controls the central heating oil system, and, due to the significant period of time it takes to both heat and cool the pipes, it isn’t activated until well into the fall term.
“Not only is beginning steam heat a significant start up process – once it is on, it is on,” Adams explained in an e-mail to the student body after enduring an onslaught of complaints. “Until spring, we have no ability to turn back on the cool air, even in our air-conditioned facilities. Therefore, during the day and in unexpected warm-ups, you would find no relief from the heat that has been started.Even if we were to perform a steam shut down due to an unexpected hot spell, once it is started it would take several days for the pipes to cool off and the heat to stop.”
But for many students living in the complex, this was another in a string of inconveniences that are associated with Townhouse living. Junior Marin Cohn is the Community Leader for her townhouse, and has struggled to communicate the needs of her residents with Office of Residential Life.
“I’ve dealt with Res Life and [Associate Director of Residential Life] James Amato, and have faced a whole bunch of issues including promised grills that were never given, the inability to hire a cleaning service and the school not providing one, among others,” Cohn said.
Bennett has similar grievances that go beyond the heating issue.
“The heat, as well as the edict banning charcoal grilling and the absence of the promised propane grills, is a continuation of failures made by the Office of Residential Life to provide students with some of the basic joys and necessities of Townhouse living.”
Yet, there are also Townhouse residents who remain unbothered by their communication with Res Life thus far.
“I think if everyone had been aware that the heat has to be turned on centrally, there wouldn’t have been so many complaints last week,” senior Lindsay Serpe said. “Students don’t want to waste energy by having heat and air conditioning running at the same time; we just didn’t realize how it worked. It makes sense to wait until it is consistently cold before turning on the heating system, and I do agree that it wasn’t necessary to turn the heat on during the first cold days last week.”
Senior Dan Streim was unaware that there was trouble with the cold blast in the first place.
“Nobody in my house was even aware that there had been a problem,” Streim said.