University turns on air in 1957 E Street

It may be November, but for senior Dorie Ain, it feels like July.

“It’s been painfully hot for the last two and a half weeks,” Ain, a resident of 1957 E St., said. “The thermostat doesn’t change the temperature and there is absolutely no ventilation.”

The University has received several complaints from students who say their rooms have been too hot for the last three weeks. On Friday, GW turned the air conditioning in 1957 E St. back on, but some students said the problem never should have happened in the first place.

“It’s almost too little too late,” said junior Ellen Wexler, another 1957 E St. resident. “Unfortunately, it takes them a while to hear all the complaints and finally do something about it, but now I hope we don’t have the opposite problem and now the rooms aren’t too cold.”

Students in the Ivory Tower also said they were uncomfortably warm.

“It’s been really hot, the thermostats don’t work and the windows don’t open,” said junior Nicole Robbet, a resident of the newly opened residence hall.

“The thermostat doesn’t turn on and off the (air conditioner) and heat. It just controls the intensity of it,” junior Stephen Hallenbeck, another Ivory Tower resident, said. “So if it’s really hot in the room, there’s no way to turn the heat off and the (air conditioner) on, you can just turn the heat down.”

The air conditioner is off because the University uses a two-pipe system to heat and cool most residence buildings, Eric Hougen, project manager for the Office of Business Operations, wrote in a letter last week. The system can only be set to cooling mode or heating mode and switching from one to the other is costly, inefficient and timely.

University officials said they are doing all they can to address students’ complaints as D.C. experienced an unusually warm first week of November. As of Friday, air conditioning has only returned to 1957 E St.

“Property Management and Facilities Management take all of these complaints seriously and initiate reasonable actions to make residents as comfortable as possible,” Hougen said.

The Student Association has received complaints from students in 1957 E St. and Mitchell and Fulbright halls, President Omar Woodard said. Woodard said he referred students to University officials and met with President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg last week to discuss the issue.

University officials said the switch is usually made on Oct. 15, but this year the heat was turned on Oct. 14 due to students’ complaints about cold dorms. According to the Weather Channel, temperatures are expected to stay in the mid-to-upper 50s this week after hovering near 70 during the first week of November.

Due to unpredictable weather patterns, maintenance workers constantly evaluate dorms’ temperatures and make adjustments if necessary, said Louis Katz, GW’s executive vice president and treasurer.

“This time of the year is difficult and they try to look at it on a building-by-building basis,” Katz said.

One year ago, GW turned the air back on in all halls because of unusually warm weather. Katz said the temperatures in 1957 E St. are particularly high because the sun continually hits the building’s windows, which can only be open a few inches because of security reasons.

In the past, noted Katz, some students have complained of being cold after air conditioning has returned. But he said GW is not being “over-responsive” to students’ concerns.

Woodard said he hopes to work with the University to ensure this problem does not arise in the future.

He said, “We went through this exact same issue last year, and turning the AC on is a short-term solution – it will fix it this year.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.