Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
It’s Hot In Here – What SPU Is Doing To Handle This
By Harvey Cruz, Class of 2018
As soon as students and professors walk into a building or classroom, they feel it. They sense it, walking up the stairs inside Pope Hall or Rankin Hall, noticing a climate change that immediately makes some take off their coats or sweaters.
At Saint Peter’s University, everyone is feeling the heat.
“The classrooms are sometimes overheated during the times in which I have class”, said sophomore Allison Hladik. She isn’t the only one who feels this way.
“In the beginning it was always so hot,” said senior Melissa Osorio. “I would literally be drenched in sweat, it was disgusting honestly.”
But what many students don’t know, is that the heat can actually affect the way they learn as well.
A study in 2015 done at the University of Tulsa found that there is “a direct correlation between fresh air and test scores”.
Researchers at TU “studied air quality in 140, fifth-grade classrooms… found a significant association between the amount of ventilation and math scores… scores were higher in classrooms where the air was cooler,” according to the article published in 2015.
One result found by researchers, was “scores went up 12 points with every 1-degree drop in temperature”.
Dr. Richard Shaughnessy, who helped conduct the study concluded that “around 72 or 73 [degrees] is an excellent temperature to strive for,” he said. He also provided some reasons as to why this is such a big problem.
“Most of the classrooms we studied are under-ventilated and overheated, and students aren’t able to achieve and do well under those conditions,” he said.
As for students here at SPU, they can feel the heat when in class, and even when taking an exam.
“I would be in class thinking about how hot it was in the room,” said Melissa. “I just wouldn’t even be paying attention.”
“The heat inside classrooms can affect a student’s concentration because they can be focusing more on how hot their body is than focusing on the task at hand,” said Allison.
Even professors and faculty find the heat inside their classrooms or offices hard to deal with.
“It’s uncomfortable for everybody and I find it more difficult to teach, not necessarily because I’m personally uncomfortable, but because my students – it’s more difficult to stay awake, it’s more difficult to pay attention”, said poetry and drama Professor Liz Lodato. “In terms of concentration, focus, comfort, I think that having that external heat factor is not helpful.”
“If it’s cold outside and you walk in [inside Rankin Hall], you feel the heat right way,” said Secretary of the Fine Arts Department, Elga V. Zaki.
“This winter, in particular, I opened up the windows and even put the AC on, at times even simultaneously”, said Administrative Assistant Madeline Bruchez. “It has been really hot this past season. They have it programmed, whether it be Winter or Spring, to have the heater on. It must be part of their seasonal program system.”
“They” being people who work the facilities in the school, one of them is Earl Worsham, who works and has a degree in Facilities Management, and Anna DePaula, director of facilities and university service. DePaula said the heating system is quite complex.
“Due to the fact of a 2-pipe system on Campus, seasonal changeover of the HVAC equipment is a very complex process that occurs over several days”, said Anna. “This means seasonal building changeover is not just a matter of flipping a switch.”
Earl also added that students and professors need to alert them about issues with the heat.
“The Facilities Department in many situations are not aware of all the conditions in the Campus buildings, therefore, it is imperative that these conditions are reported so that they can be taken care of,” said Earl. “Should there be a situation of a delayed or lengthy repair of any major equipment notices are sent to the Buildings and informing them of these conditions.”
“Weather has significant impact on the Campus ventilation equipment especially during extreme conditions because sunrise is the coldest part of the day and 3pm is the hottest part of the day”, said Earl. “During extreme temperatures that exceed equipment capacity can cause equipment failure and or not able to maintain building set points.”
Meanwhile, a cooler than normal May might just be helpful as students get ready for finals. Let’s hope it’s helpful enough for students to get over that final hurdle as the summer comes along.
Link to the research study: