As extreme heat swept across the mid-Atlantic last week, University of Maryland students living in dorms without air conditioning said they were left in a state of discomfort, with some opting to sleep in lounges or other dorms.
“I’ve been dying slowly because it’s been so hot in my dorm,” said freshman Arya Gijare, who is enrolled in letters and sciences and living in Hagerstown Hall. “Last week during the heatwave it was really bad.”
During the first week of September, College Park temperatures reached the high 90s. Sept. 6 saw the hottest temperatures with 100 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.
In 2022, the highest temperature recorded in College Park in September was only 89 degrees.
This university has eight halls where individual rooms are not equipped with air conditioning: Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Chestertown, Ellicott, Hagerstown, Wicomico and Worcester.
During the heatwave, the Department of Resident Life stocked the halls’ fridges with cold water and ice pops to keep students cool, according to Tracy Kiras, the department’s associate director for assignments, communications and technology services. Residents in the halls also received multiple emails with tips on how to stay cool.
“The University of Maryland is mindful of the impacts to our community during this September heat wave,” Kiras said in a statement. “We are particularly focused on students and staff living and working in residence halls that do not have air conditioning.”
“[The ice pops] actually were pretty nice to have,” freshman mechanical engineering major Paul Gomez Wick, who lives in Ellicott Hall, said. “They weren’t a complete solution, but they were a really good gesture.”
Resident Life also offered alternative sleeping arrangements by setting up mattresses for students in communal areas with air conditioning.
To cope with the heat, some students used numerous fans in their rooms and spent the majority of their days in lounges and libraries.
“For basically the entire week, I just tried to avoid being in [my room],” freshman journalism major Casey Glickman said. “It was definitely frustrating.”
While temperatures have cooled recently, the early September heat wave is not an isolated event, according to Timothy Canty, an associate professor in the atmospheric and oceanic science department at this university.
The recent increase in temperature is because this is an El Niño year, which generally makes Earth warmer, Canty said. But he added that as climate change intensifies, extreme weather events like heat waves will get more severe and occur more often.
“I expect things will keep getting progressively warmer,” Canty said. “If you don’t have a dorm with air conditioning, that’s uncomfortable. Buildings are poorly climate controlled and they have poor air conditioning … things like that are just going to have to be factored in.”
According to university President Darryll Pines, as experts predict warmer temperatures, this university is hoping to add air conditioning to all dorms in the next few fiscal years.
“The university is working to install the appropriate hardware and software in all of our residents’ facilities so that we get to a point where all of them have some type of either central air conditioning or at least a window air conditioning,” Pines told The Diamondback.