Penn announced it will install air conditioning in Gregory College House — the sole college dorm without AC — by August 2020.
For years, students living in dorms without AC have returned to campus during the last few weeks of summer and suffered from uncomfortable heat. In August 2018, when temperatures in Philadelphia reached the 90s in a city-wide heat wave, some freshmen living in Kings Court English College House slept in air-conditioned lounges, libraries, and computer labs to escape their own rooms.
During fall 2018, only three dorms on campus did not have AC: Gregory, Kings Court English College House, and Du Bois College House. In summer 2019, Penn installed AC systems in Kings Court English College House and Du Bois, but did not install AC in Gregory because the dorm does not have easy access to a chilled water line, which is needed to install AC, Director of Residential Services Patrick Killilee said.
Construction in Gregory will start right after Commencement in May 2020, Director of Communications and External Affairs for Penn Business Services Barbara Lea-Kruger wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Gregory is not open during the summer and there will be no students living there, Lea-Kruger added.
The construction will take place in summer 2020, Killilee said, after additional planning to determine the best way to connect an existing chilled water line to Gregory. The plan was approved at a Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 7.
Gregory residents welcomed the change and were relieved that the dorm will finally have a centralized cooling system.
For Gregory resident and Nursing senior Isis Trotman, AC will be a relief when she returns next year as a super senior.
“This past summer was not too bad, but my freshman year here was definitely difficult,” Trotman said, recounting stories of her fellow residents sleeping in public spaces because it was too hot in their rooms.
Gregory resident and College freshman Summer Wylie said the dorm's lack of AC has always irritated her — especially because residents pay the same housing fee as other students living in air-conditioned college houses.
Wylie said she feared she would have a hard time studying for her finals in her dorm in May, given the summer heat.
Gregory made an effort to combat the heat at the beginning of the semester by distributing fans to residents to put near the windows, Gregory resident and College freshman Nicole Kim said. But the initiative failed, Gregory resident and College freshmen Katie Cusick said, because the fans just blew hot air.
“We have nice common areas and stuff, but it still doesn’t make up for the heat at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year," Cusick said. "It’s just so hot sometimes."