One of the most beloved features of Columbia housing is the lack of any sort of ventilation system in the majority of undergrad buildings. People who’ve moved into McBain/Watt/Woodbridge/etc during the blazing heat of August know what we mean. There’s nothing quite like lugging boxes, altering bed heights, re-arranging desks, and generally exerting more physical effort than you have all summer in the balmy 96-degree atmosphere of your sun-drenched double. If you’re lucky, you’ve unpacked your fan early, and occasionally catch a pathetic little breeze that evaporates about two drops of sweat. And while we’re in a relatively comfortable limbo now, winter is coming, and you know it’ll come about three weeks before Housing turns the heating on. That period is marked by casually wearing ski clothing indoors, and perhaps sleeping with a towel on top of your comforter to avoid frostbite in the night. Columbia’s lack of AC/regulated heating: nothing worse, right?
Wrong. Nothing better.
This goes beyond your father talking about suffering building character during the annual family camping trip. The extreme physical discomfort brought about by Columbia’s draconian policies toward temperature regulation is one of the few community-building experiences we have. It forces you to get close. We mean close. Whether it’s offering to share your stash of ice cubs/high power personal fan, or just using your roommate as body heat come mid-October (who needs an electric blanket when you have human hair?), you’ll go through some serious bonding, and with the abandonment of personal space bubbles that usually only comes with marriage. The room will literally be marked by the signs/smells of your physical labor to make a home. You’ll be compelled to shower/do laundry three times as often as normal, paradoxically becoming a cleaner person. And as the seasons change, there’s nothing cozier than eating soup in your bed while wearing a winter hat and mittens. If your room were a normal temperature, you two would just be sitting in your chairs in total comfort, doing normal activities and not being forced to depend on each other for basic survival! And there’s nothing gained in that. (Just be wary of any rising tension from struggling for access to the one fan upon entering the room.)
Not to mention the instant friendship-builder that is mutual suffering. Run into a new floor mate in the hall and have nothing to say? A quick complaint about the heat/cold will make you BFFLs faster than you can say “guide to living violation.” You can instantly become the coolest (literally) kid in the building by making frozen cocktails/being in possession of an illicit AC unit/creating a pool in your bathroom. They’ll flock to you like sweaty sheep. And we won’t even get into what attractions you can offer after October. (Hint: more beverages, but less frozen and more spiked hot chocolate.) There’s endless amounts of behavior that you can only get away with if you’re living in such miserable conditions. Maybe Housing should just never turn on the heat. We can handle it. We can thrive on it.
Just remember: roommates who sweat/freeze together, stay together.
A person who’s doing it wrong via Shutterstock