It’s two weeks into summer school, and campus is freezing. It’s a chilly 90 degrees outside. The snowstorm is so big that plows can’t even find it. Our faces are red with frostbite, and we don’t have coats to keep ourselves warm.
In other words, it’s two weeks into summer school, and we’re shivering–or wish we were.
According to The Weather Channel, the average temperature in Exeter was about 90 degrees this week. The heat has left campus abuzz with complaints. “Why is it so hot?”, “My room’s like a sauna!”–and my favorite–“Why don’t we have AC?”
With mahogany Harkness tables, a $27-million science center, an observatory, an anthropology museum, and the largest secondary-school library in the world, Exeter leaves little to be desired–except for air-conditioning.
Exeter’s reasons for being, uh, cool to AC make sense. But the academy should at least offer some form of air conditioning, so in the summer, or during the few days of heat during the school year, students don’t breathe dust or have to rely on fanning themselves with binders to keep cool.
When we, students and teachers, gripe about how there’s no AC, the response is often “Exeter is just too cold for AC during the school year” or “It’s too expensive to install AC and use it only for five weeks.”
Okay, winters here are cold; my friend, Annèe Reach, who attends Exeter during the regular session says that winters here are beautiful. But the harsh winds lower the temperature to around 15 degrees colder than it is in her hometown in Pennsylvania.
AC is also pretty pricey, especially for a school as large as Exeter. But can’t Exeter afford to install air conditioning with its $1.2 billion endowment? Some faculty members say yes. But the challenge comes with the added cost of keeping the machines clean and running. As the maintenance costs accumulate each year, so must Exeter’s funds. And this fee doesn’t seem reasonable for something only used for a month in the summer.
Though the cost of AC can be steep, it’s certainly worth it. We need air conditioning during the summer for many health reasons.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that air conditioning is the best protection against heat strokes; that just a burst of cold air running through our homes can stop mold from sneaking in; and that the AC can filter out the pollen and dust that cause asthma attacks and allergies. Although AC isn’t the cure for the effects of hot weather, it definitely affects how students feel.
To AC or not to AC? That’s the question. But perhaps we can find a different and less one-sided solution to make Exeter an even “cooler” experience, like installing extra ceiling fans or portable air conditioners during the summer to avoid the cost of air conditioning while it’s not in use.
But meanwhile, the heating works, so at least we won’t freeze to death.