By Daffen Perez
When students go to college, most are excited. It is an opportunity for new friends, new beginnings, more education, independent life, etc. This is only further expected for those that dorm. Many that go straight from home living to campus living look forward to an accommodating transition.
As a resident of the University Square dorm building, the lack of heating during the first month of the semester was a problem for me and other residents. The lack of heating persisted throughout the month of September, leaving many to deal with the cold. It appears that there is a pattern of the heating not being turned on sooner in past years as I have been dorming for semesters prior. New Jersey starts to reach low temperatures around mid to late September- however, Rutgers Newark does not turn on the heat until mid-October, causing the buildings to grow cold. For this year, the temperature was as low as 40 degrees; the reason this is a concern is because when cold air enters the nose and upper airways, the body is less effective at fighting viruses. This means illnesses like the common cold, flu, and COVID-19 could spread more easily.
Most state laws require landlords to provide and maintain heat at a specified temperature, which is typically at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. My room, for example, had a temperature as low as 62 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Rutgers fire safety guidelines, space heaters are prohibited from the dorms.
In my suite alone I had to wear my winter coat inside of my room, along with having the oven on to produce heat in the suite.
One cannot expect everything to be perfect, especially with the majority of people living in one building; however, heating in the dorm buildings is important for students’ health. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Cold indoor temperatures have been associated with increased blood pressure, asthma symptoms and poor mental health” (National Library of Medicine). With this in mind, it is suggested that residents begin heating before October to ensure a better living experience.
Rutgers had sent out an email on October 5th. It stated they were turning on heating in the building soon after they had realized how cold the temperature was in the dorm buildings, “Dear Residents: We understand that the fluctuating temperatures are affecting your lived experiences and have heard your concerns. Please know that the Office of Housing and Residence Life and University Facilities are currently working to transition our residence halls for cooling to heating as we anticipate longer periods of cooler temperatures outside. Whether your hall is heated by the central heating plant, an individual building boiler or individual HVAC unites we anticipate heat to be fully functional over the next few days. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this process. If you have any questions, please reach out to your individual building directors or contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life at 973.353.1037.”