Heat in residence halls prompts student complaints

The University turned on the heat for the winter months in buildings across campus this week, but with outside temperatures in the District reaching 80 degrees at times, students interviewed said the heat in buildings have made them uncomfortable and frustrated.

Juan Ibanez, associate vice president for Facilities, said the heat was turned on the weekend of Oct. 10 and 11, but noted D.C. weather in the fall is “finicky with wide, rapid and unexpected swings in temperatures.”

“The switch to heat began the weekend of Oct. 10 – 11 and was completed on Oct. 13,” Ibanez said. “I think we made the right call to switch to heat when we did because Oct. 16 ended up being the coldest day for that date in 138 years, as recorded by the National Weather Service.”

More than a dozen students interviewed by The Hatchet, however, said they are aggravated that they have no control over the temperature in their rooms and are using fans and opening windows to stay cool.

“It’s been extremely hot,” Shakeera Datwani, a sophomore living in Ivory Tower, said. “The hallways are hot. The rooms are hot. We keep all the windows open all the time and I have a fan on all the time but it doesn’t really help. I wake up a lot more during the night.”

Elaine Till, a sophomore living in JBKO, echoed Datwani’s sentiments.

“It’s been like two weeks now, so it is getting excessive,” Till said. “We have no control over our room so we are at the mercy of what they set the whole building at.”

Some students interviewed said they are having trouble sleeping and studying because their rooms are uncomfortably hot.

“I wake up several times a night because it’s too hot,” Ashley Dechelfin, a junior living in Ivory Tower, said. “It’s a gross feeling. We open the windows but they don’t open enough so we don’t get enough air. I’m sick and it makes it hard to breathe.”

Freshman Rochelee Shing said she and her roommate leave the room as much as possible to stay cool.

“My roommate and I have opened our windows,” Shing said. “We’ve done that for the past week or so. It’s a nuisance because it’s hard to open and close our windows. We go to the library more often because it is uncomfortable in the room.”

Sophomore Marianne Spencer, who lives in Munson Hall, said she thinks turning on the heat when the weather is still warm goes against the University’s green policies.

“In order to keep the heat from being unbearable, we have to keep the air conditioning running and open the windows, which seems counterproductive to GW’s green policies,” said Spencer, referencing the AC window unit in her room.

Ibanez said, however, that turning the heat off is not economical for the University.

“There are over 23 major residence halls with steam boilers, plus many other boilers in academic and staff facilities. It is not practical nor cost efficient to turn boilers on and off as this is a four to five day process, and with the swings in weather this time of year, we would never get through turning them off before there would be a need for heat and there would be none,” Ibanez said. “For example, the Weather Service shows a couple warm days this coming week, but the other days will be cool with night time temperatures near or below 50 degrees.”

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