“It can get really hot”: Michigan State students struggle with heat in dorms without air conditioning

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wide shot of shaw hall and a medium shot of an air conditioning unit.

Shaw hall and air conditioning unit

EAST LANSING, Mich.- Michigan State University dorms are without air conditioning. What do students think about no air conditioning? And how can students deal with the heat as school is back in session?  

Summertime in Michigan is hot and most people run central air or fans to beat the heat. However, school is back in session and Michigan is moving into fall season. Despite that, the heat of summer still lingers.   

“It can get really hot in the dorms, especially since we just recently left summer,” said Michigan State University sophomore Tim Marshall. “I think the worst part of it is trying to sleep in the heat. It should get cooler as we move further on in the semester, and I really look forward to then.” 

The dorms of MSU don’t have air conditioning. Students much like Marshall are left frustrated. Students can be permitted to have air conditioning installed by the university as a medical need, but at a cost. 

“I love the air conditioning in my dorm I have asthma, so I was allowed to get one. I don’t have a clear understanding as to why the other dorms don’t have it,” said MSU sophomore Jackson Makowski. “I think it’s a privilege we were able to have it [air conditioning] installed. It really is something my roommates and I take for granted.”  

Financially, the university would be put under a substantial burden if they were to install air conditioning throughout the entire campus. 

“Our buildings were built with steam-powered radiant heat; we don’t have the forced air vents that a lot of homes have in them,” said MSU Associate Director for Communications of Residence, Education, and Housing Services Bethany Balks. “For us to move to having air conditioners campus-wide, our electrical grid was not established for that. It would be a significant investment to have air conditioning throughout the residential system.” 

So, what can students at MSU do to counteract the heat during the times of warmer temperatures? Unfortunately, there aren’t many options students have to avoid the heat. The university offers “comfort centers” if the temperature or heat index reaches 90 degrees. These are open around the university’s campus and are open during the normal building hours.  

Another resource students can use if they are in desperate need of air conditioning is to take it up with the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities [RCPD]. The RCPD accommodates students with disabilities, injuries, transportation, etc. They could accommodate a student in some capacity if the need for air conditioning was an emergency.  

MSU has ventured into the idea of adding air conditioning into the dorms. The cost of room and board would play a factor in the addition of the appliance. The future of added air conditioning is undetermined, but for now students are going to continue to have an extra fan turned on in their dorms. 

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