As the summer came to a bittersweet end, an array of minivans, trucks, and stuffed-to-the-brim Ford Focuses ascended to our campus. Students could be spotted moving anything from futons to suitcases packed with clothes into their brand new dorm room.
This process ultimately ended with shirts soaked through with sweat and grumpy parents overheated from the lack of a key factor that is crucial for any Minnesotan to survive the humid heat of summer: air conditioning.
I feel it is safe to assume that a majority of students returning to campus were not expecting to feel the cooling blast of sweet, sweet air conditioning upon entering their dorms, but it always seems to be a shock to our systems when we stop for a second and feel the heat descend upon us.
Naturally, this continued discomfort often prompts college students to take to social media proclaiming their absolute need for air conditioning. I will be honest, I was among those ranks. But as the first few nights at Gustavus came to an end, I realized that the negatives heavily outweigh the positives for completely gutting the dorm buildings to install air conditioning.
The biggest obstacle of installing air conditioning that puts a damper on my enthusiasm is the overall cost of it. I may not be a professional contractor, but after watching a few hours of Fixer Upper, I can gauge that this new amenity would be too expensive to even consider. The issues with cost do not stop at the pure insanity of the price, but spreads to where the funding would come from. Donors that are already maxed out because of Nobel? Student tuition? Rearrangement of funding from another important aspect of campus life? None of these options seem incredibly great.
Further, if the price problems were to be conquered, another large hurdle stands in the way: construction time and energy. Say we do find the funding we need for the air conditioning system-we would need to find even more funding for the workers who would, so graciously, install them.
And if that was settled, the next issue would be the time it would take would. Seeing as we just welcomed one of the largest First Year classes to Gustavus I have ever heard of, I don’t see it likely that there are extra spots in dorms available to students if the building they would be living in were to be renovated. You may be thinking-why are you even considering the school year as the best installation time period?
And I have an answer: the various camps, groups, and other activities Gustavus hosts throughout the entire summer. Seeing as not every dorm is used at one moment, it could be possible, but adding to the current construction zone around Nobel is likely not a fantastic idea.
Perhaps the biggest reason why I feel as though the need for air conditioning should be lower on our priority list here at Gustavus can be seen as a more trivial one: it is not incredibly hot for the majority of the school year. At most it is “unbearably” hot between three to six weeks out of the school year. This is a measly number compared to the total amount of weeks in the academic year.
There are some options, besides permanent air conditioning units, that Gustavus could offer. Obviously, on a large scale it still would not be cheap, but still much less cost than air conditioning units. Box fans, or simply fans that fit on the windowsill, could be included in rooms or offered for lower prices to students who are suffering due to heat reasons. Or, if students are willing to pay or a donor that is not overly-extended is very generous, portable air conditioning units could be provided and/or offered.
However, that is not something that should be on the to-do list of campus officials, either seeing as the weather has already begun to cool down and it is still the first week of school.
Soon the campus will be littered with coat-wearing Gusties complaining that their room is too cold.