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FSU kicks off semester in midst of heat wave

Gatepost Archives

By Emily Rosenberg


By Sophia Harris

Associate Editor

From August 31 to September 11, Framingham experienced high levels of heat and humidity, making the first week of classes difficult and uncomfortable for some students.

The stretch’s highest recorded temperature of 97 degrees occurred on Thursday, Sept. 7. Students were released early from Framingham Public Schools to avoid experiencing heat exhaustion.

Framingham was one of several school districts to decide on an early dismissal from classes or to cancel activities altogether.

Executive Vice President Dale Hamel said the main factor that the administration considers canceling class is if transportation will be an issue. Therefore, as a majority of the main buildings on campus where classes occur have air conditioning, the administration did not see an issue with continuing classes. He added heat doesn’t typically come into play regarding canceling classes unless one of the HVAC systems goes down.

Resident students noted hot dorms made it impossible to study or sleep in their rooms. Some students even went back home after classes because of the heat.

Meghan Larkin, director of orientation, said orientation leaders planned at the beginning of each day to provide students with resources to keep them safe during the heat. They also planned ahead what times they would take breaks and during which points of the day they would move into the shade.

Although events during orientation were planned from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day, students were not required to attend.

She added during the Student Club and Organization fair on Sept. 7, the Center for Student Experience provided cold water for students and student leaders, as they were told they could not move the event inside.

An email was sent to the FSU community by Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Meg Nowak Borrego on Sept. 8 addressing the “unseasonably warm weather.”

The email communicated that the administration was aware of the discomfort students may have been feeling. “We want to recognize that all of you have been living and learning through discomfort this first week of classes,” the email stated.

The email from Nowak Borrego addressed ways students could combat the heat such as using spaces on campus that are air conditioned “during peak hours,” using built-in shades or Residence Life-approved window coverings, taking a Trip on the RamTram to the air-conditioned Natick mall, as well as tips such as taking a cold shower, borrowing a fan from a neighbor and staying hydrated.

Nowak Borrego said she sent the email because she wanted to ensure those who are first-year residents knew there are options on and off campus to escape the heat and stay safe. She added it is important for students to know that the McCarthy Center is open 24/7.

She emphasized the importance of students reaching out to faculty and staff about their individual situations.

Glenn Cochran, associate dean of students and student life, agreed. “People were warm and windows only open a limited amount.”

Cochran said he “encourages students not to fixate on the heat.”

He added he encourages students to use fans and “spend time in other [air-conditioned] places.”

He said, “You can't change it and if you look at the rarity of it - the reality is that some people are really hot and they are going to be really cold really soon.”

Linsley Hall is closed for this academic year and was previously the only on-campus residence hall that was air-conditioned.

Cochran said the University has priced out the possibility of adding air conditioning to a few parts of Larned Hall and it is "a couple of million dollars.” However, this would only happen if FSU decides to stop using Linsley for summer housing.

Cochran said, “It's a lot of money. How much would you want to add to a student's cost of education to cover a condition that might happen for four or five days in 10 years?”

He added, “Then once the air conditioning is in, that's not the end of the cost.” There is the cost of energy and repairs and replacements in the future and that is “another huge cost.”

Cochran said FSU is “trying to be accessible and affordable.”

Health Center Director Anne Lyons said her staff did not treat any students with “severe heat issues like heatstroke or heat exhaustion.”

She added the Health Center has treated students “who don't feel well” and the heat and possible dehydration “definitely makes things worse.”

Lyons advised “wearing appropriate clothing for the weather so your body can cool” will help students stay comfortable during the heat.

She added avoiding “excessive alcohol” will lower a student's risk of heat stroke.

Lyons said staying hydrated is “really the best way” to prevent heat-related illnesses.

Athletes are “really at risk for heat-related injury because they're working out in the hottest part of the day between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.,” Lyons said.

She said students should “avoid strenuous physical activity in the heat.”

She added if a student is on a sports team, and is “going to be working out in the heat - build up to it. You don't want to start football practice in this heat. You want to start weeks before building up your tolerance.”

Will Nee, a senior, said they believe the residence halls should be air conditioned and it “kind of seems like almost a human rights issue.”

Haley Hadge, a senior, said moving into her dorm was especially challenging in the heat.

“I got so hot just from picking up suitcases and duffle bags. I was like, I have to leave. I went to the McCarthy Center because it's air-conditioned. But that didn't solve the sleeping problem. So I did end up having to go home,” she said.

She added she brought a fan with her to keep in her dorm, which has a built-in thermostat.

“I put the fan in my window and it registers the temperature of the room it’s in. I took a photo of it when I registered at 98 but it did get as high as 101 degrees,” Hadge said.

She said one of her concerns was the physiological effects of the heat. “It can be really dangerous and if you take into account students who have secondary medical conditions that don't allow them to self-regulate their body temperatures, it can get really dangerous - even leading to hospitalization from overheating or heat stroke.”

Brian Fintonis, a sophomore, said the first week of classes was “pretty bad” due to the heat.

He said he understands there is “not much the campus can really do other than provide places to be cool.

“The weather is going to be what the weather is, you know,” he said.

James Rodick, a sophomore, said the heat was “so bad” he had to commute to FSU for the first week of classes.

He said he “wishes FSU would get AC on campus.”

Haley Jensen, a freshman, said while she enjoyed her first week on campus, the heat made her very exhausted, especially as she lives on campus and had to go back to a non-air-conditioned dorm at the end of each day.

Kenley Fleurimond, a freshman, said the heat was “very irritating” because he drove back to his home in Boston to avoid having to stay in his dorm in the heat.

‘It was good to see friends, but it was so hot,” he added, “so you’re in a class and instead of worrying about the material, you’re focusing on how hot it is.”



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