Students suffer without air conditioning
As temperatures cool down, and the first of fall breezes make their way across campus, some freshmen have more reason than most to be excited about the change in weather. It stands in stark contrast to the temperatures of the first month of school, when the thermometer rarely dipped below 90 degrees. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem but for one thing: For every freshman who chooses dorm-style living, there is no air conditioning in the rooms of Birnkrant, New and North Residential Colleges, Pardee and Marks Towers. USC housing must address this issue immediately to alleviate stress and increase student comfort.
When students are trying to acclimate to a new environment, comfort is a crucial factor for their happiness. Undecided freshman Siena Silver, who lives in Birnkrant, said there have been nights where she has been kept awake by the sweltering temperatures.
“The heat keeps us up late at night because we’re not comfortable enough to fall asleep,” Silver said. “People actually slept in the lobby downstairs for several nights on end because it was too hot to be in the rooms.”
A university that allows its students to sleep on the floors of a lobby does not make the best impression upon its student body — especially when room and board comes at such a high cost. Furthermore, without that comfort level, students lose sleep, which in turn affects their academics and productivity during the day. The issue of sleep is an issue of academic success, which is crucial when beginning a new school. Our university cannot expect students to realize their full potential when they are not well-rested.
Freshman Jessica Fischer, a communications major who lives in Pardee Tower, said that she felt the lack of air conditioning in her dorm room hurt her academic performance.
“I don’t like to complain, but the level of discomfort is just not fair,” Fischer said. “It has severely affected my sleep cycle and made me less productive during the day, hurting my academic success.”
If USC truly values students’ academic experiences, then this is an issue that cannot be ignored. The temperatures, which rarely fell below 85 degrees at night for the first few weeks of the fall semester, have a negative effect on freshmen living in dorms.
“Without air conditioning, I could never sleep, and it really did hamper my performance as a student,” freshman Birnkrant resident Jeff Levine said. “I wish I could study in my room and be more productive, but with the heat I just can’t.”
The lack of air conditioning basically sends a message to all incoming freshmen: They must choose between comfort or dorm-style living. Though air conditioned suite-style living is a great option for many, all students should be given the fair choice of living in the traditional college hall. No air conditioning means that many students immediately discount that option, losing out on an experience that could vastly enrich their time at USC.
Emily Huang, a resident advisor for Birnkrant, echoed these sentiments.
“One of the worst parts of being an RA in the first few weeks was seeing the new residents have to sleep downstairs in the lobby because they couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t do their work,” Huang said. “That was definitely detrimental to their studying and academic life so early into the semester.”
Huang said there is something very special about living in a dorm setting freshman year, and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“It does seem to give students a sense of inequality, because there are other buildings for freshmen that do have air conditioning,” Huang said. “I feel like suites tend to not foster the sense of community that dorms can, so students miss out on that experience. There’s air conditioning on the first floor, so why can’t they have it on the rest? The school has money, they just need to direct it toward student living.”
One solution to this is if the housing system won’t let students have air conditioning, then they should be allowed to install smaller, portable systems themselves.
“There are other residence halls on campus that do have it, and I can’t seem to comprehend why we can’t have it as well,” said freshman international relations major Ora Rosenbaum, who lives in Marks Tower. “If USC won’t do that for us, at least let us install our own units if we want them.”
It is imperative that USC resolve this issue. With so many freshmen subject to the 85-degree weather and no air conditioning, which affects habits ranging from sleep to stress to academics, it simply cannot be ignored. It is USC’s responsibility to its students to resolve this issue for the happiness and success of them all.
Rebecca Cohen is a freshman majoring in narrative studies.
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