A hot start to the school year prompted some students at the University of Maryland, College Park to escape the heat by ditching their dorm rooms in favor of crashing in lounges.
As temperatures soared into the 90s and heat index values hit triple digits this week, some students in dorms without air conditioning sought refuge in cooler multipurpose rooms and lounges, where the school provided mattresses and fans, a university spokeswoman said.
Tracy Kiras, a spokeswoman for the university’s resident life department, said the school has taken measures to support the 2,000 students who live without air conditioning in Carroll, Caroline, Wicomico, Worchester, Cecil, Chestertown, Ellicott and Hagerstown halls. She said the university has provided about 400 fans, allowed students access to other air-conditioned buildings, delivered 90 mattresses to air-conditioned lounges and multipurpose rooms, and stocked freezers in dorms with ice pops for students.
“We have tried as many creative solutions as possible to help students find some relief during … what I think is an unseasonably warm period,” Kiras said.
It’s typical for the start of the fall semester to see a few hot days, but this week’s heat seemed unusual, Kiras said. The university has taken similar measures to accommodate students during hot weather periods before, but this was the most extreme effort she could recall.
“We are certainly concerned and can empathize with the frustration that our students have with the heat both in and outside of the buildings,” Kiras said. “It seems like this is unusual temperatures.”
The buildings without air conditioning are slated to be replaced by new dorms, and the university has no plans to renovate the existing halls to equip them with air conditioning. The school received approval to start construction on a new housing building on Maryland’s north campus on the varsity practice field. Construction is slated to begin at the end of the spring 2019 semester, according to Jessica Jennings, a spokeswoman for the university.
Temperatures are expected to cool this weekend, with highs in the 70s forecast Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
“We are anxious for this break in temperature,” Kiras said.