Residents of Elmwood Hall were encouraged to stay overnight in Anacon Hall after a heat wave from Sept. 5-7 prompted student and parent complaints about temperatures in the residence halls.
“I had lived in Elmwood before so I knew they did not have air conditioning,” stated Matt Engel, a junior communication student. “I did not want to stay there, but I had requested a single room and this was the only dorm that had them.”
Elmwood and Pinewood Halls remain the only student housing buildings on campus without air conditioning. While high temperatures are not much of an issue in the middle of the school year, the first few weeks of school are where students are facing the heat. According to the New Jersey Herald, the first week of September could have been considered a heat wave, with it having felt more like the first week of August than the first week of September.
On the final day of student move-in, Labor Day (Sept. 3), the heat in West Long Branch reached about 90 degrees with no record regarding how high temperatures were in residence halls without air conditioning.
On Sept. 4, Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President of Student Life and Leadership Engagement, contemplated ways to accommodate students living in these non-air conditioned buildings. “We began to get a lot of complaints from students and parents about the conditions so we worked with facility management to gather additional fans to strategically place around those buildings to improve the flow of air,” Nagy explained.
On late Wednesday afternoon, Nagy recived a phone call from a parent who was concerned about the living conditions of their child. At this point, the fans didn’t seem to be working and the weather wasn’t breaking so the decision was made to offer cots in Anacon Hall to any student that felt uncomfortable in their building.
About 12 cots were set up throughout Anacon Hall in the Rebecca Stafford Student Center with another dozen kept as extras ready to be utilized if needed.
“The University has cots in stock for employees who need to remain on campus when there are weather situations that prevent them from being able to get to and from campus,” said Patricia Swannack, Vice President of Administrative Services. “On occasion, the Police, Facilities Management employees and Gourmet Dining employees have had to remain on campus in order to provide appropriate support to our students.”
University faculty members were unsure of how many students would actually utilize this accommodation, but the message was given out to all of Residential Life who then notified the student body through an email sent out to all students to which the issue pertained to.
Upon further inspection the following morning, Nagy found four students asleep in their now air-conditioned building of Anacon Hall.
One student, Shannon Monaghan, a freshman health studies student and a resident of Elmwood Hall, walked over to the Student Center with some of her friends around 12:00 a.m. the previous night when the heat became unbearable.
“Being without air conditioning wouldn’t have affected my school choice because I only really went one week with being really hot,” said Monaghan. “I just hope that it doesn’t get like this again at the end of the school year.
Setting up cots in Anacon Hall is something Nagy has never done before; however, moving forward in the first or last couple weeks of school if they need to implement this plan again they will.
“Elmwood and Pinewood were the first and now oldest resident halls on campus and were built in the 1960’s,”commented Nagy. “We are now actively evaluating what can be done to renovate or replace those two buildings.”
Renovating or replacing these two building is not nearly as easy as it may seem; they can only be altered during the summer when students are not living in them.
Assistant Vice President for Student Services James Pillar also commented on these possible renovations to Monmouth’s oldest residential buildings and said, “I do not envision air conditioning being added to these buildings in the near future.”
Pillar added, “This is an issue that is not unique to Monmouth. The University, in consultation with stakeholders of the community, will continue to evaluate which improvements are financially feasible and will ultimately be beneficial to our students.”
“Last academic year, the University distributed an RFP to engage an architectural firm to work with University officials and students to improve the residential experience, Pinewood Hall and Elmwood Hall, for students,” said Swannack. “In the near future, students will be invited to participate in the process so that they can share their thoughts.”
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University