Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Heat in Walsh, Village C Hinders Learning, Living

For students taking the Medieval Sexualities course offered by the English department this semester, each meeting in the Walsh Building class begins with a ritual.  

In an effort to fight the high heat in the room, the first to arrive prop open the doors and windows and pull down the shades to block the sunlight without obstructing the flow of fresh air, according to professor Kelley Wickham-Crowley, who teaches the course. 

This practice is one of the many ways through which students are learning to deal with the high heat in various university buildings, a product of the unseasonably warm weather that the D.C. area has experienced in the past few weeks and a heating system that doesn’t allow classroom users to adjust the room’s temperature. Students living in Village C East and West buildings have also reported that the heating and cooling in the buildings is difficult to adjust to comfortable levels. 

“It makes it very hard for people to focus,” Wickham-Crowley said. “It’s the kind of thing where you can’t overcome the environment except to tell everyone we’re all in the same boat and we have to stay on task.” 

Ella Mitchell (COL ’13), a student in the Liberal Arts Seminar in the Walsh Building, said her classroom experience suffers because of the high temperatures. 

Additional faculty interviewed said that the heat is less overwhelming in larger classrooms where multiple doors permit increased ventilation. The smaller seminar rooms face stifling heat, according to William-Crowley. 

“At first, the overactive heating vents were just a little annoying, but after a couple of classes, it really started becoming an issue,” she said. “We’re forced either to sweat through a three-hour class or open the windows and make [the] teacher yell just to be heard over the noises from the street below.” 

Wickham-Crowley said that the heating system seems more powerful than that of the cooling system for the building, an imbalance that contributed to the heat levels.

“The whole system does not work well. It is not very efficient no matter what season you’re in,” she said. 

The temperature problem has been both of extreme heat and cold, according to students. Village C East and West experienced uncomfortably low temperatures until maintenance crews converted the cooling systems to heating.  

“Village C is a two-pipe building, meaning it either gets cooling or heat, but not both at the same time,” said Andy Pino, the university’s director of media relations. “While the building is well-insulated, the transition months of fall and spring are difficult months because of the wide variation in temperatures.”

Tory Lynch (COL ’13) said that her Village C West dorm room was particularly cold during the first weeks of the semester until facilities changed the system to heating.  

“It was noticeable the first month of school that we were freezing all the time,” she said. 

Anne Kenslea (COL ’13), also a resident of Village C West, said she often has difficulty setting a temperature in her room because of the limited temperature options on the thermostat. 

“There’s no middle ground,” Kenslea said. “Sometimes we open our window because that’s the only way to get it to cool down.” 

The energy management team continuously reprograms the software for heating and air conditioning systems to ensure their efficiency, Pino said. The process incorporates feedback from the Office of Residence Life staff and building residents, and students consistently offered positive feedback, he said. 

“Facilities has checked in with the hall directors and they’ve reported that the building feels comfortable and they have received few complaints,” Pino said.  

any of the reported problems are derived from the physical limitations of the buildings, which lack the climate control capabilities of newer dorms.  

Wickham-Crowley suggested that the university include heating and cooling system upgrades as part of efforts to improve environmental sustainability.  

“Since the university is looking at being more energy efficient,” she said. “Perhaps they could look at that with the heating they use.”

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