Broken AC units leave students and faculty sweltering

By Kristine Pascual, September 12, 2023

Allegations of broken air conditioning in certain campus buildings have risen during the first two weeks back on campus where students were faced with summer temperatures more than 90 degrees, with some days over 100.

These claims were made on the Cal Poly Pomona Reddit with students voicing concern over broken AC units campuswide. For example, classroom 1407 in Building 24A had students complaining about the hot weather.

“They installed a portable unit for that room, but it is not enough to keep the building cool,” said George Lwin, manager of Energy and Utilities. “We took the measurements on the temperature, and we did notice that it was in the elevated temperatures.”
Several of the buildings that have been experiencing severe heat are module buildings, including Building 24A. The maintenance team has been working to fix AC units throughout campus.

“All our guys have had to run around and service those areas when the temperature is hot,” Lwin said. “Some areas we are able to fix, and some areas we just can’t fix because the unit is running fine and running correctly, but it’s maxed out on its cooling.”
One factor that worsens the heat is the number of students assigned per classroom. With the add/drop period going on, students are switching between classes, which potentially increases the number of students in a class.

“When you have these classrooms packed with a large amount of people, all our bodies heat up, so we are just a bunch of walking heat generators,” Lwin said. “Hopefully once things settle, we don’t have these occupancy issues because the classes have been established, knowing how many students are going to be in the class.”
In the meantime, Lwin recommended classes be relocated to larger buildings equipped to hold more students and generate cold air. He also suggested professors use Zoom when the temperature reached an uncomfortable level.

Erick Guandique, director of Environmental Health and Safety, explained how heat can interfere with learning.

Ruth Olivares | The Poly Post

“We have a program called Illness Prevention Program, which is a state regulation,” Guandique said. “So, whenever the temperature goes over 85 degrees, we always send reminders to employees and students about the risk of being in high temperatures.”
For visual communication design student Chris Johnson, he admitted the heat makes him feel lazy and takes away motivation.

“It’s especially a struggle because our parking lots are asphalt and pavement, which means it’s even hotter on the way to class,” Johnson said. “There are not a lot of free options for hydration that are made obvious by the campus. If I were to make changes, I would make more obvious stations for rehydration.”

For numerous students, classes are also scattered across the 1,438-acre campus with students having to trek up and down hills to get from one building to another. This means they might be suffering from the effects of heat exposure before they enter the classroom.

“I have been wearing shorts and T-shirts, wearing a lot of deodorant, drinking water and getting to class earlier,” Johnson said. “Because I commute, I want to make sure I have plenty of time to walk so that I don’t have to make a run for it in this heat.”
To be prepared, students should monitor the weather throughout the week to be adequately prepared when they show up to school. If students are facing any AC issues contact the mechanical services team at qbtew@cpp.edu.

Feature image courtesy of Ruth Olivares

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