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Baby, it’s cold inside: Changing temperatures outside make staying comfortable inside dorms difficult

January 31st, 2013

As the winter wind and the winter grind has ensued, John Carroll University students have been hard at work. But when you are waking up throughout the night like freshman Murphy Hall resident Bobby Traver, it is hard to get your beauty sleep.

“When I wake up in the morning, I can see my breath,” said Traver. “Since the cold came in, it has been getting noticeably worse.”

With some students claiming to have filed work orders with the maintenance staff and others not taking action to make a report, it is difficult to determine the main source of the problem. Regardless, it is evident that the heaters have been an issue in residence halls all across campus.

Kayla Leech, a sophomore resident of Campion Hall, said, “I am in a corner room where there are two windows. When it is really cold out, we have our heat turned up all the way, and even with both of these windows closed, we still experience heating problems. At night, when it is really cold, and we have numerous blankets, we still end up sleeping in other peoples’ rooms because it is too cold to sleep there at night. We have put work orders in, but no one has responded to them yet.”

Some students, like freshman Sutowski Hall resident Taylor Eckman, said she believed that the heater in her room never worked to begin with. A few residents in Hamlin Hall reported that the problem was not just the lack of heat, but rather the excessive heat.

Residence Life Advisory Board member Mariah White offered an explanation for the problems. Having just come out of a meeting on the issue, she explained that the staff is working very hard to make JCU residents as comfortable and as warm as possible.

White said, “The boilers that heat our dorms are as high as they can be right now. Even though we are struggling and having some issues in the dorms with heating, [maintenance] is doing the best they can, considering the fact that it [has been] eight degrees out, and their goal is a 76 degree temperature in the rooms.”

Senior Bernet Hall resident assistant Corrin Powell said students must be more proactive about the situation. “Overall there are issues on campus that can’t be denied, but most of the problems just deal with breakers being temperamental, and [the Facilities Department] will just reset them, and the problem will be fine. I think that students need to be more diligent on filing work orders, because normally after they do that, the problem goes away.”

Carol Dietz, the associate vice president of facilities, said the changing weather patterns are to blame. “When students left for break in mid-December, we had not had the stretches of the bitter cold temperatures that we experienced last week,” she said. “Temperatures were in the teens and single-digits, not including wind chill, most of last week.”

The Facilities Department proactively increased the boiler hot water temperature in anticipation of the record cold temperatures, according to Dietz. “[The] maintenance staff worked overtime Monday through Wednesday to address all heating concerns brought to their attention,” she said. “The expectation is that [JCU] will be able to provide a minimum temperature of 67 degrees to all occupied spaces. When this criteria cannot be met, maintenance will provide temporary space heaters for rooms until we can get the particular heating issue resolved.”

Dietz offered advice to students who are experiencing problems with the heat in their residence halls. “Windows need to be closed completely,” she said. “Many times the windows look like they are closed completely from a distance, but when you look closer they are not. While this might not matter when the temperatures are in the 30s or higher, when they dip down to where they were last week, every little bit matters.”

She also noted that when the temperatures are low, it is important that students keep furniture, bedding, clothing and miscellaneous items away from all radiators so that heat can be transferred to the rooms. Submitting a work order is the only way the problem can be resolved, she said.