While many students stayed inside to escape the cold during the snowstorms last week, others were not able to find the same refuge.
For many students living in Heathman Hall, their heat has not been working for the past few weeks or, for some, the entirety of the academic school year. After multiple complaints to Resident Advisors, filing work orders, and promises that the heat might be fixed, dealing with the cold has just become something you get used to, according to sophomore Fatima Dewan.
“We just put on jackets when we have to,” Dewan said. “It’s the middle of the winter. I don’t know when they’re going to fix it.”
The temperature in her room was 56 degrees Fahrenheit at noon on Monday. The temperature outside at the time was 30 degrees Fahrenheit. In Rhode Island, legislature sets minimum thermal standards for heating at 68 degrees Fahrenheit “under average winter conditions.”
Over the weekend, sophomore Lindsay Jennings said her room was freezing since her heat stopped working two weeks ago. She has not complained yet, but said she plans to if the situation gets worse.
“I have a lot of blankets, so I just put those on,” Jennings said. “I wear my jacket sometimes inside.”
Jennings room was slightly higher than Dewan’s, reading at 59 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday afternoon.
The lack of heat is not an issue for everyone, especially those who do not like their rooms too warm. Sophomore Tolulope Ademola said she actually prefers the cooler temperatures most of the time, but that some of her friends in the building have snuck in space heaters in order to stay warm.
Others in the building have had their complaints heard and had their heating issues fixed. Sophomores Baizat Ibrahim and Lizianne Cherilus returned this semester to find out that their heat had stopped working.
“One night we were sitting on the floor and realized it was really cold,” Ibrahim said. “We compared it to the room on the side of us and it was warm, so we realized our heat wasn’t working.”
Now that the issue has been fixed, Ibrahim and Cherilus said that it’s almost too hot in their room. Even with the heat turned down on cool, it was 71 degrees Fahrenheit in their room on Monday afternoon.
Housing and Residential Life Director John Sears said he was unaware of any chronic heating problems before being contacted by The Good 5 Cent Cigar.
“We recommend that if students are having any kind of issue in their room that they see their [Resident Advisor], who can issue a work order with Facilities,” Sears said. “Our staff will be aware as well.”
For students who are going without heat, it might not be a quick fix, according to Sears. He said that it depends entirely on what the issue is.
“If it’s more of an efficiency issue where we need to work with Facilities to clean out those radiators to make them more efficient, that’s something that would take a little bit longer,” Sears said.
When residence halls in the Roger Williams Complex were faced similar heating issues a few years ago, staff went around collecting digital thermometer readings. For severe chronic heating issues, Sears said that students were provided with space heaters. Actions like this may need to be taken in Heathman Hall as Housing and Residential Life continues to look into the issue.
When asked about whether there was a minimum thermal standards for heating set by the university, Sears said he was unsure.
The university has been implementing a new work order system, which Sears said he believes will be more efficient and timely, but may have some issues to be worked out. He does not believe that’s an excuse, however.
“If a student is facing temperatures like that in the winter time, that’s something we need to address,” Sears said. “You should not have to wear a winter coat in your room.”