It’s About Time Rubin Cooled Down


WSN Editorial Board

When the first-years moved into Rubin Residence Hall, they were just beginning to feel the brunt of living without air conditioning in New York City. Following a heat advisory issued during their first week on campus, Rubin residents received an email with the option to sleep in a cot in the building’s air-conditioned lounge. That night, many residents took the opportunity and were displaced from their rooms to find relief from the intense heat. Though NYU announced that air conditioning will be coming to the dorm in three years, Rubin’s lack of air conditioning should have been addressed much earlier.

At first glance, a lack of air conditioning might seem like a true first-world problem. However, with rising temperatures and longer heat waves due to climate change, air conditioning is now being viewed as a necessity, not a luxury. Researchers at Harvard University recently conducted a study which found that students who live in dorms without air conditioning perform significantly worse on basic cognitive tests than those with the amenity. This study is one of the “few [that] have observed heat wave effects on indoor temperatures.” While more research is needed to draw a conclusion, with rising extreme heat in New York City, the need for air conditioning becomes clearer. In response to the situation, University Spokesperson John Beckman discussed plans for renovating Rubin in 2021. However, with global warming becoming a more pressing issue each day, it seems as though this renovation might be coming a little too late.

Other college campuses face similar problems with a lack of air conditioning in some dorms. At the University of Pennsylvania, 800 students who live on campus were provided with Italian ices during the recent heat wave  to help them cool down in lieu of air-conditioning. Considering that all dorms are the same price at UPenn, students questioned why the school risked their health and comfort. Other schools that offered students the option to sleep in common lounges during the heatwave included Dartmouth College and Yale, in addition to NYU. In 2017, Yale debuted two new residential halls without air conditioning. The halls were designed to include a mechanism to circulate “chilled air. However, at the beginning of this academic year, the circulation mechanism failed to fight the heat wave, resulting in students having to spend nights on the basketball courts. In today’s climate, air conditioning is a must for students to succeed in highly demanding academic environments.

As global temperatures continue to rise, scientists expect more people to die of heat-related causes. Yet the issue of a lack of air conditioning in college dorms continues to be considered as a norm at several universities. These students, who are paying steadily increasing tuition fees, are facing the same problem that previous generations of students had to, but for a much higher price tag and in a hotter climate. It is time to change housing regulations so that air conditioning is not seen as a privilege but as a necessity.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. 

A version of this appeared in the Monday, Sept. 17 print edition.

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