Students and representatives from several departments at the University of Maryland discussed the lack of air conditioning in dorms and electric scooter safety at a RHA town hall Monday.
Representatives from this university’s Department of Resident Life, Department of Residential Facilities and Department of Transportation Services answered student-submitted questions and confronted criticisms related to air conditioning access in dorms and micromobility safety.
One of the primary issues discussed at Monday’s town hall was the lack of air conditioning in some dorms on campus.
Andrea Crabb, this university’s residential facilities director, apologized to students for the lack of air conditioning and emphasized the department’s commitment to improve this amenity moving forward.
“If I can give [students] air conditioning tomorrow, I would,” Crabb said.
A September heat wave left some students in dorms without air conditioning sleeping in lounges and in other dorms, The Diamondback reported last month.
In response to the heat wave, Resident Life offered alternative sleeping accommodations for students living in dorms without air conditioning and stocked dorm lounges with ice pops to help students cool off.
According to Crabb, delays in air conditioning installation for some dorms, such as Ellicott Hall and Hagerstown Hall, “comes down to money.” She described the issue as “complex” but remains optimistic regarding a resolution.
“I promise you that you will see air conditioning in some of these halls before you graduate,” Crabb said.
But some students, including freshman international business major Isabel Mathews, questioned this university’s commitment to providing air conditioning for students.
Mathews, the president of Cumberland Hall council, said she doesn’t understand why some dorms still do not have air conditioning.
“If we didn’t have the money, then why are we spending on building new halls?” Mathews asked.
Despite her concerns, Mathews added that the town hall helped her understand the issue from the administrators’ perspectives.
Electric scooter safety was another key topic discussed at the town hall.
David Allen, the executive director for DOTS, highlighted how the rapid emergence of scooters on campus has created a challenge for this university.
“Scooters truly have taken over campus,” Allen said. “This is a work in progress.”
This semester, DOTS registered about 1,300 scooters on campus after requiring students to register scooters for the first time.
Allen, who rides a scooter to work, emphasized that the safety problems are not with the electric scooters themselves, but with the enforcement of road rules.
While DOTS is still working on how it should enforce regulations, Allen said the department created a safety campaign for electric scooters.
According to guidance on the DOTS website and various signs around campus, DOTS mandates all micromobility operators to dismount and walk their vehicles on sidewalks and crosswalks.
Moving forward, Crabb encouraged students to continue voicing their concerns to campus leaders.
“This campus does listen,” Crabb said. “Use your common voice to affect change for the things that the campus needs.”