Heat in the residence halls

Holly Johannsen

Students took the first step into their non-air-conditioned residence hall rooms last week and were surprised how warm the rooms were.

With the hot temperatures, many are finding ways to keep cool and stay out of the heat – in some cases, their rooms.

For Benjamin Metcalf, freshman in civil engineering, moving here from New York was a new experience and the heat was no exception.

“I was pretty much like, ‘Wow, it is way too hot in here,'” Metcalf said. “I didn’t expect it to be as hot as it was.”

Metcalf came to Iowa State expecting it to have lower humidity after his father told him it would not be bad.

“He said it was like 50 percent [humidity] at the highest here and it wouldn’t feel hot at all, but on the day I moved I couldn’t believe how humid it was out here – and it felt really, really hot,” Metcalf said. “That night I hardly slept at all because of the heat.”

Many incoming freshmen expected the residence halls to be hot and brought fans, but that has not been enough to cool down the rooms to a comfortable temperature.

“We were thinking about leaving the fridge door open and see if it would cool down the room,” Metcalf said.

With fans not giving the satisfaction of cool air, some students are finding reasons to go somewhere with air conditioning.

“Find reasons to go to Target or Wal-Mart to look at stuff and stay in the air conditioning,” said Brianna Carlson, Oak-Elm community adviser and junior in hotel, restaurant and institution management.

“I think it gets hot, but I don’t really mind it.”

Peter Englin, director of the department of residence, said many of the residence halls have air conditioning. However, the Old Richardson Court Association, with the oldest buildings – built before 1960 – and a few other residence areas, do not.

“We recognize it is very warm,” Englin said. “We have far more needs than we have the finances for.”

Putting air conditioning into those halls is more difficult than students realize. Englin said it all has to do with the design of the buildings.

Adding air conditioning to one of the buildings would cost more than $1 million, and that does not include the cost required for that entire facility to be rewired.

“We have to balance demand with the cost and benefit,” Englin said. “Air conditioning is needed only for a few weeks. If it did become a problem and needed to be addressed, then we would try to find out how to make it happen.”

Metcalf said he was disappointed with his room assignment. He was placed in an honors house that does not have air conditioning.

“I’m definitely not happy,” Metcalf said. “Otherwise I would have switched to an air-conditioning dorm.”

Students have the option of switching rooms or residence halls before the fall semester begins.

Englin said that during the months of June and July there were about 1,000 room switches, although not all were air-conditioning related.

Once people realize they can switch their room assignments, many of them do, Englin said.

“We are putting the choice back in the student’s hands,” he said.

Over the next couple of months, students should be aware of the heat and its effects.

According to the National Weather Service Web site, drinking plenty of water and nonalcoholic drinks, slowing down or going inside during the heat of the day and dressing in light-colored or lightweight clothing will help in the heat.

Common signs of heat exhaustion include feeling faint, nausea and heavy sweating, according to the Thielen Student Health Center’s Web site.

If someone is experiencing these symptoms, giving the person water and getting him or her out of the heat are easy ways to prevent the situation from progressing.

While it is hot, students will have to do their best to stay cool.

“I thought about taking a chair into the cold shower and sleeping there, but that was a bit out of the question,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf said he is learning to get used to the intensive heat.

Top 10 free ways to keep cool:

10. Walk through the buildings on campus with AC

9. Hang out in the residence halls with AC

8. Take a nap in the Parks Library

7. Walk around local businesses with AC

6. Go to a restaurant and order ice water with your meal

5. Go to a grocery store and walk through the freezer isle

4. Ride CyRide around Ames

3. Find/make friends that have AC

2. Take a cold shower

1. Water fight!