CUNY Students, Faculty Steamed by faulty Air Conditioners

The Professional Sta Congress placed thermometers like these around campus / City Council of Higher Education

A wave of fed-up students and faculty are filing complaints to the Office of Facilities for broken air conditioners across campus, CUNY officials said.

The broken air conditioners have resulted in temperatures well above 90 degrees. Some professors have gone as far as to cancel lectures or dismiss classes early because of the extreme heat.

“I tried my best but after two hours plus it gets out of control,” said Professor Brian Dunphy in a blog post on his course website. “I personally think it is dangerous […] I changed classrooms hoping the room would be less hot than the room above it… Obviously, that’s not true.”

This fall, the Brooklyn College student government created an online portal to help track facility requests, offering students a quicker option to the phone-in only system.

“We definitely do hear informal complaints about air conditioners,” said Zunera Ahmed, a representative of the Brooklyn College Student Government, “As students we have seen classroom conditions and understand how it disrupts our education.”

“We noticed the process to file a complaint to facilities was long and unnecessary,” said Ahmed, who created a Google Form to track requests.  “After hearing a professor voice his frustration we decided to pass resolution in solidarity and push facilities to have an online system.”

Over the past four years, the CUNY Central Office stopped providing approximately $300,000 to $400,000 in funding for repairs and maintenance, according to City Council documents.

“Regularly some offices report temperatures above 90 degrees,” said Cindy Bink, a delegate for the Professional Staff of Congress (PSC) in a testimony to the council of higher education. “This occurs in both the winter and summer. Other offices are so cold employees wear coats and hats.”

Bink added, “Employees are becoming sick and others have resigned as a result.”

However, this is not only an issue at Brooklyn College.

Christine Li, a Biology professor at City College, said conditions pose a health risk to students.

“One summer the temperature rose to over 90 degrees in some classrooms, putting the health of our Muslim students at risk,” said Li, in a testimony to the City Council on Higher Education. “The condition of our facilities [is] depressing and disrespectful to students, staff, faculty and not conducive to learning or scholarship.”

Cheryl Lim, a graduate student, knows all too well the challenges  of overheated classroom. Lim said an air conditioner outage in class made it difficult to focus.

“Some were dizzy, but I was just irritated,” Lim said. “Because of tuition increases, I do expect that we can be comfortable so we can properly learn.”

Lim added, “Everyone was so focused on leaving.  We were distracted.”

The cramped space also emitted a fetid odor.

“It was so hot it was pretty hard to breathe,” said Lim, who says the overheated room smelled like tainted paint.

A representative for the Office of Facilities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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