The Switch: Students concerned about building temperatures throughout campus
By ALICEN HACKNEY
This fall the East Coast has seen some extreme temperatures, which means the central heating and air conditioning for UMW dorms and other on-campus buildings has left many students in a period of discomfort.
Temperatures have been high for October and part of the beginning of November, but this is not entirely different from last year’s weather. Heating was only turned on one week later than it had been last year. With the temperature still being in the high 60s and low 70s when the switch from air conditioning to heating took place, students had mixed reviews about their comfortability with the temperature in the buildings.
Sophomore Cassie Haynes reported little discomfort as she felt the switch over in the classrooms in Monroe and Combs was timely for the cold front that hit the area.
“It had been uncomfortable in basement classrooms of Combs, it was way too hot for a while there and since it’s the basement opening the smaller windows doesn’t help much,” said senior Lucinda York-Brown. “The heating in Dupont seems to be off as well, one of the staircases is much colder in comparison to the other.”
Administration follows a specific process when it comes time to make the change between A/C and heat.
“Deciding when to switch over from A/C to heat involves conversations between our departments, looking at last year’s timeline, and most importantly, checking the weather forecast,” said Associate Director for Residence Life and Housing, Hunter Rauscher.
“We take a look at the 10 day outlook and take into account the highs and the nighttime lows. When we see weather dropping into colder temperatures we need to work toward turning on the heat. Since our students are out in class during the day but most students are home in the evening, our evening and night temperatures become very important.”
In addition to a warning about when the switch over is going to happen, the Residence Life team does give students tips for how to deal with the changes in temperature and maximize their comfort.
Confusion can also arrive from the process by which the heating is turned on and why it is a permanent change for the season.
“Many of our building systems are not simple systems like you find at home,” said Rauscher. “We cannot switch from A/C to heat and back to A/C without a lot of planning and work. Many of our buildings can only have one or the other on at a time. The switch-over takes time in order for hot water to be made on such a large scale to heat an entire building.”
Unlike the UMW Apartments on William Street, where the temperature is controlled by each apartment individually, many of the dorms and classroom buildings run on a central heating system that runs hot air to the entire building at once. This can result in a brief period of discomfort for students and professors. Rauscher assures, “their comfort is important to us and we do our best to time things so students can remain comfortable.”
For any inquiries or complaints students should feel welcome to speak with staff at Residence Life in Marye House, located behind Trinkle and Mason Hall.
“Students can always come talk to us about this or any other issue they are experiencing,” said Rauscher. “We also encourage students to place work orders if they need anything or have questions about building systems. Students can talk to anyone in our office or the Facility Services office, however, a work order is the best place to start.”