Students trudge through snowy North Campus past Balch Hall.

Courtesy of Cornell University

Students trudge through snowy North Campus past Balch Hall.

January 22, 2019

A Rude Awakening: North Campus Residents Shiver as Broken Heaters Abound

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On Monday night, as students returned to their campus dorm rooms and the temperature continued to shiver around the single digits, several students reported broken radiators and insufficient heating on North Campus.

South Campus Residential House Director Kyle Schillace alerted staff in an internal group chat late on Monday night that there was a “huge heating crisis on North campus (aka the heat isn’t working).” He went on to say that he hadn’t heard of any issues on South Campus but to “call the RHD on call # if you or residents discover heat issues.”

Temperatures dipped below 10 degrees on Monday night and remained in the single digits with negative 30 degree windchill. According to Weather.com, prolonged exposure to these conditions for about 30 minutes could result in painful frostbite.

“In my suite, all of our heaters are broken,” said Sara Mills ’22, a resident in Low Rise 7. She expressed concern over the adequacy of the maintenance personnel.

“It was actually hilarious, my suitemate called the maintenance man to put in a request to fix the radiator last night, and this man came [today] with a bucket and a broom, and just hit the radiator [with the broom] and left. That was the fakest maintenance man I’ve ever seen,” Mills said.

In an email sent to Low Rise residents obtained by The Sun, Residential House Director Mark Schneider detailed how to address heating issues. The email explained that the low rise buildings run on steam heat and can be adjusted by turning a knob that from goes from level 1 (least heat) to level 5 (most heat).

“If your room has literally no heat, meaning the radiator is completely cold even when turned to 5, first check that the radiator is not blocked or that anything is preventing the heat flow,” the RHD said. “If there still is no heat coming through the radiator, call facilities or the RA on-call in the evening/on weekends to report the problem.”

The director told residents to place a maintenance request in the case of insufficient heating, and to make certain that all windows in rooms and hallways were closed to avoid frozen pipes and “potential flooding.”

Despite multiple reports of issues from residents and staff, University Spokesperson John Carberry stated late on Monday that after reaching out to multiple sources, “the heating system that services North Campus is fully functional.”

The Sun reached out to all the Residential Hall Directors in the North Campus dorms and Program Houses on Monday evening. None picked up the phone or replied to emails for comment.

“I got in today and I… was expecting some warmth but it was actually very cold. I actually just left to Appel [Commons] because it’s warmer there and now I’m trying to wear warm clothes,” Salaiha Mughal ’22, who lives in Balch Hall, said. “When I sleep I’m going to have, like, two comforters on.”

Meanwhile, Sofia Aguirre ’22 said that she and her roommate have been sleeping with “a lot of blankets” for a month and a half. “Even just to type my hand starts to get really cold,” she said.

“It’s not like it’s unbearable in here, but I could tell that it’s a bit chilly when I am in my room compared to the hallway,” Amina Hasan ’22, another Balch resident, said. “I like sleeping with a lot of blankets so I’m fine at night…I notice it in the daytime when I’m moving around the room.”

The Sun could not reach Energy Management and Control Systems by the time of publication.

Gillian Smith, Cornell’s media relations specialist, encouraged students to “contact their RAs and then CUPD dispatch” if they experience a loss of heat.