The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


OPINION: Hot dorms during the summer makes life at Chatham difficult

Abby Cunkelman
Small fans with roommates in a Chatham University dorm room

As the summer heat prolongs itself and delays our fall further, Chatham University residents are forced to live in their dorm-shaped saunas longer than expected.

Not too long ago, the first-year class, including myself, arrived on campus with cars full of belongings and excited to take part in all that Chatham has to offer. Unfortunately, Chatham does not offer air conditioning. Nothing makes introducing yourself to a stranger who is supposed to be your roommate for the term more awkward than the need to live in the least amount of clothing possible that won’t get you arrested for public indecency. Fortunately for me as I was rooming with two other teammates, we already had a level of comfortability to sleep in whatever means necessary that allowed us to sleep semi-uncomfortable. 

To add on, as a women’s ice hockey player, it forces my two roommates and I to air out our gear outside or in worst-case scenarios… in our rooms. Nothing is better than returning to your dorm from your classes after waking up at 4:30 a.m., skating at 6 a.m., team workout at 8:30 a.m. to a hot and humid room because of the combination of improper ventilation and evaporated sweat. Gross.

It doesn’t just stop at the dorms either. Coolidge is a sick joke as my classes are anything but “cool” and Braun and Falk Hall are no better. Even as I am writing this story in room 301 in the Jennie King Mellon Library, I can confirm there is no air conditioning in this room and in other parts of the library as well. There is no escape from Chatham University’s inability to provide livable conditions to learn, teach, grow, and prosper as future leaders of America. 

If the campus buildings, that are shared by Chatham University’s residents and employees, are not kept at a liveable temperature, then how can we be expected to succeed if our dorms also don’t provide relief from this inescapable heat?

However, my frustrations truly lie with the lack of transparency between Residence Life and Chatham Residents. I feel as though there was not enough information provided to students about the air conditioning situation or lack thereof. 

Sure, we were warned on the Chatham website which dorms did not have air conditioning prior to our arrival, but what are first-years supposed to do as most of the living spaces for undergraduates do not have air conditioning. 

Fortunately, Chatham University is kind enough to provide air-conditioning units to those with medical accommodations. However, they must submit a cover letter and a disability verification form completed by a medical physician prior to even being considered for an air conditioning unit. Then the significance and severity of their need is questioned by the Housing Medical Accommodations Committee at Chatham University. 

And even after all that, there is still the possibility they will be denied and essentially told that their medical accommodations are not warranted or severe enough.

Unfortunately, that means those who do not have medical accommodation but still don’t want to sweat while they are relaxing in their dorm room are completely out of luck as air conditioning units are prohibited for students to buy and use themselves. The best they can do is buy personal fans and make the most of what little relief they provide. I could not find a specific reason other than the vague “for safety reasons” found on the “What to Bring & What Not to Bring” Residence Hall/Apartment Guide provided by Residence Life.

It is no secret that it gets hot in those dorm rooms and the warm weather from summer has been lasting longer into the fall term. Chatham University needs to start looking at solutions for the benefit of its students. It needs to prioritize creating an environment where everyone is comfortable, thus creating an environment where everyone can put their best foot forward too. 

At this point, the minuscule number of comfortable areas on campus reflects an inability and unwillingness to adapt to the overall environmental changes impacting the global population. If our dorms are to be considered our new “home” for the next four years, then why do they feel so inhospitable?

As the diverse and accepting campus that Chatham claims to be, then it should have a good understanding that growth, learning, and creativity can only be fostered in an environment where every student feels comfortable. This includes feeling physically well enough to retain information and push themselves to be better versions of themselves. In this unavoidable, sweltering state, you can hardly push someone to get away from their fans.

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