While many students have been escaping the outdoor heat by heading inside to their air-conditioned dorm rooms, other students have not been quite so lucky.
Kings Court English College House, Du Bois College House, and Gregory College House do not have air-conditioning, and residents have been competing at night to find spots to sleep in air-conditioned common areas, while others report waking up at 4 a.m. if they choose to sleep in their respective dorm rooms.
The catalyst for these unusual sleeping behaviors has been the heat wave that struck campus and the broader Philadelphia area over the past couple days. On Tuesday morning, Executive Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services Craig Carnaroli and Vice President of FRES Anne Papageorge sent out a notice of a heat advisory to the Penn community, warning of conditions "potentially dangerous for heat-related illnesses."
Kings Court English College House resident and Engineering freshman Matthew Cho said he felt “a wave of heat wash over” every time he stepped off the elevator onto his fifth floor hall.
“There’s no ventilation – all the hot air has been trapped up there for so long,” Cho said. “I start sweating as soon as I get onto my floor.”
Another Kings Court English College House resident and College and Wharton freshman Noa Attias said the dorms are “abnormally hot.”
Executive Director Doug Berger of Penn Business Services said they are trying their best to help student residents battle out the heat, specifically “trying to find places for students to have a break from those buildings.”
“We had a water ice truck around. We’re doing it again tonight for those two buildings,” Berger said, referring to Kings Court English College House and Du Bois. “We did add some additional cooling in Kings Court in some lounges in preparation for this.”
Faramarz Vakili, executive director of operations and maintenance for FRES, said to battle the extreme temperatures, FRES added portable air conditioning to some Kings Court English College House lounges. Business Services also offered Italian ice to residents of Kings Court English College House and Du Bois at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
Despite the free ice and air-conditioned common spaces, however, residents say they remain frustrated.
Kings Court English College House resident and College and Wharton freshman Ana Arango described Tuesday night as “pretty hectic.”
Desperate to sleep in one of the buildings' few air-conditioned rooms, Arango said students took to common spaces such as the lounge, computer lab, and library. She added “people were fighting” for spots in the lounge.
Attias said one hallmate “literally slept on the counter below a TV in the lounge because all the couches were filled.” Another one of Attias’ friends is borrowing her air mattress to use in the lounge.
Residents who choose to battle out the heat in their own rooms are finding it nearly impossible to sleep in the feverish temperatures. Arango spent the night in her dorm room, despite the heat.
“People are waking up at 4 in the morning,” Attias added.
To add to the chaos, two fire alarms went off, one of which was in Attias’ room. “To be honest, nobody knows why,” Attias said. “We think it’s because of the heat.”
“I don’t get it,” Attias added. “I pay the same amount of tuition as the people in the Quad.”
Since all students in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business are required to live together in Kings Court English College House, Attias “didn’t really have a choice to be in Kings Court or not.”
Kings Court English College House, Du Bois, and Gregory College House are the few remaining dorms without air conditioning. Although most residential buildings at Penn initially did not have air conditioning, it was added to the Quad dorms and Hill College House during their respective renovations in 1999 and 2017.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.