No AC at USC

Students struggle in non-air conditioned dorms amidst extreme California heat wave.

Students basking in the sun on the grass in sweltering heat.

Students living on campus in New North, Birnkrant, Marks and Pardee Tower aren’t getting air conditioning, even with September’s record high temperatures reaching 100 degrees in Los Angeles.

The lack of AC in conjunction with the heat wave has disrupted the lives of many USC students who live on campus this year and in years past, affecting everything from their academics to their everyday living conditions.

“Living in Marks Tower last year with no AC was difficult,” Raegan Lusk, a sophomore majoring in international relations, said. “I spent most of my time in Leavey Library to escape the heat and only went back to my dorm to sleep.”

This year, Lusk lives in Cowlings Residential College, an air-conditioned residence hall in the USC Village. Compared to last year, she said her experience has been “like night and day.”

Many private colleges provide students with air conditioning in on-campus housing. However, even with USC’s tuition fee now standing at $63,468 and an added $10,506 for university housing, students are still not equipped with cooling facilities in certain dormitories. Some students get creative with fans and ice, and others take more extreme measures to cool off.

Arav Sidhwani, a sophomore majoring in cinematic arts and a former New North resident, used personal funds to sneak an AC unit into his dorm, violating the residential college’s housing agreement.

Aléa Motwane, a freshman communications major and current resident of New North, said that in order to replace the air conditioning she has had to “sleep with ice” on her.

“It’s sad because my friends and I have to pay money to get hotel rooms with AC for the night, just to be able to sleep,” Motwane said.

Stephen Knobel, a freshman majoring in journalism, also living in New North, said that he has resorted to sleeping with nine fans in his room. Knobel forwarded an email to Annenberg Media from the New North Customer Service Center, implying that students should not have taken the fans distributed throughout the building, despite the grueling heat. The email requested, “now that it’s cooled down, if [residents] have a fan, please drop it off at the New North CSC. No questions asked.”

While the heat wave is technically over, temperatures are still reaching the mid to high 90s in LA. California Civil Code deems a dwelling without adequate heating facilities “untenantable” but does not account for air conditioning. Even after undergoing changes in 2012, the law has not been updated to accommodate for the extreme temperatures Angelenos and USC students are facing today.

The New North staff claims they have done “everything [they] could to help cool the buildings.” In a statement regarding the heat wave in residence halls with no AC, USC Housing said that they unlocked air conditioned meeting rooms that typically required reservations and relaxed rules on time limits. They also noted “cooling locations” available to students on campus.

Kira Liljegren, a junior double majoring in international relations and theatre, who lives in an air conditioned apartment off campus, says she “can’t imagine dealing with such high temperatures with no in-building AC.” Liljegren is from Paradise Valley, Arizona where the weather during peak summertime culminates around 120 degrees.

“It is not safe to be without AC,” Liljegren said. “[California] landlords should have to provide some kind of cooling system for tenants.”