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Credit: Ananya Chandra , Ananya Chandra

As temperatures hit 80 degrees and students start switching out their heavy jackets for jean shorts, residents in the Quadrangle have been left sweltering in dorm rooms without air conditioning. 

“The aggressively heated Quad makes it impossible to live, study or generally function as a human being,” College freshman and Quad resident Ila Sethi said.

Every year, a team of administrators from Residential Services collaborate on which day they plan on turning off the heat and turning on the AC. Quad Building Manager Damesa Bennett said this discussion began mid-March this year when the team began tracking the weather trajectory of the spring season.

The team shut off the heat in all buildings last Monday, April 17. For the buildings that have AC — all 13 Penn residential buildings, except Kings Court English College House, Gregory College House and Du Bois College House — the process of transitioning to AC began last Wednesday, April 19, a date that is typical for Residential Services, Bennett said. 

He added that all buildings will have AC by this Wednesday, April 26, though larger buildings such as the Quad and the high rises should expect AC a little later than smaller ones such as Stouffer College House. 

The impending arrival of AC has given Quad residents something to celebrate.

“I’m excited that AC is coming to the Quad,” Engineering freshman Colleen Campbell said. “Now I can sleep again.”

To turn on the AC, the heating must be fully off, the outside temperature must be 75 or above for three consecutive days and the nighttime temperature must remain moderate in long term forecast predictions. Residential Services needs to be sure of weather patterns before switching off the heating because the decision to do so cannot be reversed. 

“We don’t have the ability to [switch back and forth multiple times],” Bennett said. “Once we make that switch from one to the other, that’s it for the season.”

This decision involves all 13 Penn residential buildings run by Penn’s two pipe heating system, not just the Quad. All of Penn’s residential buildings operate as a unit on the same system, and the decision to switch to AC applies to all dorms.

“We’ve made the decision [to turn on AC] as early as the 10th of April and as late as the 2nd of May,” Business Services’ Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger said. “It really depends on if we’re having a warm spring or a cold spring.”

Residential Services has been gradually adding AC into all dorms since the late '90s. Hill College House is the latest dorm to receive such an upgrade, and the building will now have AC when it reopens in the fall. The other three dorms without AC will have to go through intensive renovation to install it, since the buildings were built before AC was created.  

“We have been considering air conditioning when we’re redoing our buildings," Lea-Kruger said. “In 2002, AC was added to the Quad … the high rises had AC added in the mid-2000s.”