Elizabeth Connelly ’25
Winter has officially arrived on the Hill and with that means that the all too familiar cacophony of the heating system can be heard across campus. In dorm rooms especially, this sound is ever present. I know we can all relate to being so close to falling asleep only to be awoken suddenly by the clanging of the pipes in our room. I live in Wheeler, the oldest running dormitory on campus, which means that the heating system has some interesting quirks. I sampled three different students living on the first and third floors. On the first floor, one student reports the heat to be perfectly adequate. “I haven’t had to adjust the heat since moving in. It hasn’t been too hot or cold, although I have heard some horror stories about the heat on this floor.” However, resident Maddie Bodjalean says otherwise. She lives in one of the RA rooms in Wheeler so one would think that would come with perks, like a functional heating system. But she shared that her room has become “unlivable” at times when the heat goes awry. “It is usually super hot in our room, and we can’t even open a window.” This is a problem that people have reported to me, and that I have experienced myself. The system is programmed so that it will increase the temperature of the room. So with the open window, the system only senses the cold air coming from the window and raises the temperature of the whole room.
And this problem doesn’t just exist in Wheeler. I polled people from different dorms across campus. Results were varied but some common themes emerged. The systems seem to be sporadic in each room. One resident in Lehy 3 reports that his room started out very cold and seemed to not be working properly. He even placed a work order, and the system was fixed. But when they returned from break, the room was freezing once again. One resident in Alumni states that the heat is erratic and tends to spike at random points. “Plus, she says, there’s no way to control it.”
The main problem seems to be the general erratic nature of the system. Sometimes its cold and doesn’t seem to be even on, while other times it blasts heat all day leaving you with a stuffy, overheated dorm room. In my own room on Wheeler three, the heat has been a constant struggle. It started out nonexistent to the point where we were stuffing towels under the window (which also doesn’t close all the way) just to keep from wearing coats in the room. Then it was sweltering. Now, it seems to have neutralized, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our good luck stays.
Why does this matter? The heating systems seem to be somewhat of a joke with their sportaic on and off tendencies, but this could have long term effects on sleep in the dorms. The ideal sleep temperature seems to be in the low 60s (fahrenheit) somewhere between 60 and 65. In my interviews many of the people reported that their heat has spiked well above 65 into the 70-80 range. And some even reported an interruption in sleep due to the room being too hot. It is important to maintain the quality of sleep in order to maximize our health and wellness, as well as productivity. I hope that as we move into the colder months, the heating problem is resolved, but that may be wishful thinking. So for now, bundle up!
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