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Feeling the heat on campus

Students and faculty are literally on the ‘hot seat’ in classrooms throughout campus, and many have grown weary of the temperature.
Quentin Winstine/The Daily Mississippian

“There are two set point temperatures for the buildings,” Physical Plant Director Ashton Pearson said. “The winter set point is 68 degrees, and the summer set point is 74 degrees.”
The Energy Management Policy for the University of Mississippi became effective in January 2012. Since then, the summer set point has changed from 78 to 74.
“It’s understood that from the specified set point, the temperature in the building is allowed to drift +/- 2 degrees on either side,” Pearson said.
Based on opinions and complaints by faculty and students, the logical solution is to lower the temperature in the buildings. However, Pearson explained why that solution alone will not work.
“All Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi have been given the initiative to reduce our overall individual energy consumption by 30 percent over a 10-year period, which used FY2006 as the baseline year,” he said.
Pearson said reduced energy consumptions lead to reduced costs.
“The university has not and will not rely on simply adjusting building set points to achieve the required 30 percent overall reduction,” he said. “There are many other programs and initiatives that the university has undertaken and will continue to undertake to achieve the targeted milestone.”
As for that milestone, Pearson said there are 10,000 control points on campus.
“When a control point goes out of specification, the Physical Plant Department (PPD) investigates and corrects the matter,” he said. “The individual building heating and cooling systems vary in age and design across campus. As we experience problems with the older systems, response times for the mechanical equipment to adjust for humidity and temperature control take a longer time to recover.”
Administrative Coordinator Casandra Jenkins, who is located in Hume, has heard complaints about the first floor resulting in warmer temperatures.
“We usually put in a work order, and Physical Plant normally comes and adjusts the temperature,” Jenkins said. “I’ve also noticed fans out in the hallways, but a lot of times people bring them on their own. If the Physical Plant does that, I’m unaware of it.”
Students have shared similar sentiments about the heat.
“I’ve had classes in Hume where the heat is unbearable,” biochemistry junior Narinder Jit said.
Business sophomore John Brattebo said the Brevard Auditorium also heats up. He also said when he had classes in Hume, he noticed students growing angry due to the heat.
Heat in the classrooms can cause more than anger and a little bit of sweat.
“One social psychology finding is that aggression and hostility are associated with heat,” Carrie Smith, professor and social psychologist, said. “When you place participants in a hotter room, they are more aggressive and report more hostility towards a stranger compared to students in a room kept at a comfortable temperature.”
Of course, not all the buildings on campus are as hot as Hume, Bishop, Bondurant and Shoemaker. Buildings such as Farley, Bryant and Martindale, to name a few, are considered cooler than others.
“Set point exemptions can be made,” Pearson said. “Most exemptions are granted in cases such as computer labs, server rooms, specialized research facilities, etc.”
The heat in the classrooms is not only affecting the students, but the professors as well.
Biology senior Chrischatta Gillespie said her professor canceled class because of the heat in Bondurant.
“It gets pretty hot in there,” she said. “It would be hard for anyone to pay attention.”
Professor and chair of Health and Science Recreation Management Mark Loftin agrees.
“If we’re sweating, the heat would have an adverse effect considering how long the class is,” he said. “A 50-minute class wouldn’t have as drastic an effect as a 3-hour class, but it would have an effect nonetheless.”
Loftin also stressed how the heat could have a different effect depending on their age. He said that as we age, we don’t handle the heat well.
“It could possibly have more affect on a professor because they are moving around the classroom generating more heat,” Loftin said.
This is very much the case for speech instructor Debra Yancy who maneuvers through her small room in Hume whipping her crafted fan.
“I have classes all over campus, and some of my rooms are not pleasant places,” Yancy said. “On my best of days I am hot-natured; it’s hard for me to concentrate when it’s really hot and hard for my students to concentrate. I have one room where the air conditioning doesn’t work, but they are fixing it, and it’s getting better. Then I have this one, with a long history of cooling issues, but hey, it’s an adventure.”