This semester, the Alumni Memorial Residence halls (AMR I and II) are equipped with window air conditioning units. While other dorms on campus have central air conditioning, lack of air conditioning (AC) has been a historically distinctive feature of the AMRs.
During the summer, the buildings are typically fitted with window units for the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) program, which invites secondary students to experience college life, taking college-level classes and living in the AMRs.
In the past, the units were removed at the start of the school year. Director of Housing Operations Candace Martínez-Doane wrote in an email to The News-Letter that this was because they believed the buildings would not be able to withstand the electrical load of accommodating a full building of students with all of their appliances.
However, after a survey of the buildings, it was determined that the buildings could now accommodate AC units.
“We did a study of the electrical systems of the buildings, and with electronics becoming more energy efficient we determined that the buildings could now withstand the addition of the AC units, “ Martínez-Doane wrote.
Many students suspected that the air conditioning units were left in place to make up for the removal of covered grades. Martínez-Doane countered this rumor.
“While I appreciate the creativity in this reasoning, it is unfounded,” she wrote. “Any changes to grade policies are unrelated to placing AC units in the buildings.”
Many students support the decision, particularly upperclassmen that remember what it was like to live in the AMRs when it was hot and humid.
Junior Sophia Song lived in AMR II as a freshman. She wrote in an email to The News-Letter that not having AC made it difficult to stay in her dorm for many hours, particularly when studying, and made it difficult to fall asleep.
“I’m happy that the freshman get AC now, to make their living situation more comfortable,” Song wrote. “Of course, they lost the opportunity to bond with other AMR residents about how miserable some days could be.”
Other students currently living in the AMRs said that the AC units have caused a change in the social dynamics of the AMRs.
Freshman Cortland Morse currently lives in AMR II. He said that, prior to coming to Hopkins, he was uncertain about the air conditioning in the dorms.
“It was a surprise when I walked in for the first day,” Morse said. “I was on Pre-O, so I came a week early, and the AC was blowing a nice cool 65 degrees. It was really nice then because the weather was a lot worse than it is now.”
However, Morse said that one drawback of having AC is that students in the dorms no longer have to leave their rooms to escape the heat.
“I heard the AMRs used to be a lot more social,” Morse said. “Basically it was too stuffy, so everyone was forced out into the hall to socialize, and now there’s really no reason to go in the hallways. Honestly, AMRs were advertised as the social dorms, but I think Wolman has the upper hand this year because we only have one social lounge.”
Junior JoJo Castellanos works as a residential advisor in AMR II and lived in the AMRs his freshman year. During his freshman year, many of his fellow residents would keep their doors open to promote airflow and would then socialize in the halls.
“Two years ago, people would open up their doors because it would be so hot, and they needed air circulation, and now that people have AC they tend to shut their doors a bit more, and so it has implications on the social dynamic,” Castellanos said.
He also commented on how the weather has been a bit cooler than it usually is at the start of the year. He said that some residents have even complained about cold air blowing in through gaps between the AC and the windows.
“It’s been so cold recently and the weather has been all over the place, so they haven’t really been appreciating it,” Castellanos said. “But that’s okay, at least they have the option.”
Freshman Natalia Zhukova, who lives in AMR II, said that she found it easy to control the temperature of her room, and that she has not experienced any drafts or cold air from the units.
“We haven’t had really warm weather,” Zhukova said, “But it’s definitely been nice. You walk into your room, and you feel comfortable, so it’s definitely awesome.”
Elanor West, a senior who lived in AMR II as a freshman, was also concerned about the logistical issues that might come from having the window-units in the dorms.
“It’s good that they finally put in AC,” West said. “But it could be a problem when it starts to get cold.”
Housing said that facility staff will remove the AC units on an unspecified date. Students will be notified prior to their removal. The window units will not be reinstalled at the end of the spring semester, because Housing cited that temperatures tend to be lower in May than in September.