By HELEN JUNG College sophomore Jonathan Held doesn't need to read the newspaper to feel the chilling effects of the Persian Gulf crisis. Every morning, Held wakes up to his cold Quadrangle room and feels the impact of a new University cost-cutting policy to lower the temperature in all campus buildings by about five degrees. "I don't need to use my refrigerator to make ice cubes," he said last night from his room. "It's freezing in here." Vice President for Facilities Arthur Gravina said last week that the University would lower temperatures in administrative buildings to 65 degrees and those in residential buildings to 68 degrees, in accordance with federal conservation guidelines. The buildings were usually kept between 70 to 72 degrees. Lowering the thermostat will help lower steam costs which have risen in the wake of the Persian Gulf crisis, Gravina said. Philadelphia Thermal Energy, which supplies the steam to heat all of campus, increased its rates by 15 percent this semester, which is expected to cost the University an additional $2 million. The vice president added that officials hope to save at least $1 million by lowering the heat and discouraging use of alternate heat sources -- such as space heaters -- which would transfer costs from steam to electricity. Before the utility hikes, the University already paid Philadelphia Thermal $12 million each year for steam, Gravina said. Utility costs were cited as one reason for last year's 6.9 percent tuition and fees hike. Lowering thermostats may have unexpected consequences -- such as weight gain -- according to Hospitality Services Executive Director Donald Jacobs. Jacobs said earlier this month that when the University lowered thermostats during the 1970s oil crises, the consumption of Dining Services food increased dramatically, raising costs by at least five percent. "Fat people stay warmer," Jacobs said. "Fat's a good insulator." He pointed out that students could fill up on calories -- which are units of heat -- to replace the units of heat missing elsewhere on campus. Provost Michael Aiken and Senior Vice President Marna Whittington told officials of the change in a letter asking them to alert their co-workers. They also suggested ways to ward off the cold such as bringing extra sweaters. Heat has been on in the residences for the past two weeks and in all campus buildings since Thursday night, according to Superintendent of Utilities Joseph Botta. The reduced temperatures went into effect immediately. But most officials and students said they aren't steamed over the reduced heat. They agreed that if a lower thermostat translates into a lower tuition bill next year, they are willing to pay the price of runny noses and cold feet now. Nursing junior Leslie Sondeen said last week that although she initially stopped cold at the thought of lower temperatures, she thinks she can live with the decision. "I'll just plug in the electric blanket," Sondeen said. She added that although she may have to bring extra sweatshirts to classes in the Nursing Education Building, she does not anticipate a big change. "It's freezing there all year round anyway," she said. And College freshman Jalak Jobanputra said yesterday that although the weather "so far has not been unbearable," her room gets cold from air seeping through the windows. "It can get really chilly at night," she said. "It's hard to get out of bed and go down to the shower in the morning." But College sophomore Held and others maintain that reducing the heat level is unfair to students and shows that the University wastes money in the wrong places. "They have the nerve to charge us $20,000 a year and not even give us enough heat," College sophomore Held said. "Since Wharton is one of the best business schools in the country, you'd think there would be plenty of them to fix the budget for us."Comments powered by Disqus
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