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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Beating the heat on campus poses a challenge

Students navigate the Pit on the first day of classes, Aug. 18.

Picture this: Excited for their first day of college, a naïve, innocent first-year who’s grown accustomed to COVID-19 isolation decides to dress up. 

They wear a collared shirt and a pair of pants and embark upon their 20-minute walk from South Campus to the FedEx Global Center. Once they get there, they rush to the bathroom only to realize they are drenched in sweat. 

Last year, dear readers, I was that innocent, wide-eyed first-year.

How did this happen? In attempting to answer those questions, I, a writer for a college student newspaper, acknowledge that I can't single-handedly reverse the effects of climate change. But there are factors beyond climate change that contribute to the heat on campus — some of which are in our control, others not so much.

For one, even when we retire to our dorms, a lot of students grapple with faulty air conditioning and ventilation. 

Our dorms are old and repairing them is difficult, but heating and cooling problems are still important to address. Unsafe or uncomfortable conditions make it harder to study or get work done in our rooms, which pushes students to search for other places on campus to do their work.

So that begs the question: Are there places to sit outside without risking an involuntary tan?

Well, we used to have tents in the quad, but they were taken down after widespread complaints that they were an eyesore. Although I don’t disagree with that assessment, people were using them up until they were taken down, so the lack of an alternative is disheartening. 

Many students and staff enjoyed being able to smell the fresh air, get a little bit of shade and take advantage of the tents’ chairs. With that gone, all that’s left is an uncomfortable, muddy landscape. 

I’m sure no one would want to sit there.

Therefore, the last resort we have against the heat on campus are the libraries, dining halls and other buildings on North Campus. And while concerns regarding indoor transmission of viral diseases seem to have declined in the last few months, these spaces can still be dangerous for COVID-19 transmission.

Furthermore, noise echoes off the walls of these buildings and it’s hard to truly relax in such congested indoor spaces. 

It's sad to think the University's only alternative to the sweltering heat in my dorm room or the crowded, risky environment of a library is working outdoors, a situation only made worse with the quad's tents lost to the ages.

With the lack of a real solution to these issues, UNC students need to do two things. 

Firstly, there needs to be a push for administrators to assist us. My dorm room should have working air conditioning and I should also have places to sit outside that aren’t scaldingly hot. 

Secondly, and more easily, students should take the necessary individual measures to peacefully exist amid the heat. If you feel like the weather could be an issue for you, feel free to show up to your lectures in a T-shirt and short shorts. It’s not like you’d impress anyone by dressing up anyways, considering that we’re all focused on either the lecture or online shopping.

You’ll also get used to walking around throughout the course of the semester, but you still should probably wear deodorant. I don’t mind if you don’t have a problem with the heat, but please don’t cause problems for me.


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