Is it Hot in Here, or is it just Pepperdine?
“On a hot day, it’s 75 degrees and on a cold day, it’s 75 degrees,” said Karl Kalinkewicz, the Assistant Director of Recruitment and Student Development at Pepperdine University during the Malibu welcoming reception for potential students. Whether giving the idea of seemingly “perfect” weather is a move to entice students to come to the university, the never-ending heat wave of fall 2015 has proven that perfect weather was not in the forecast.
The year has brought along many new weather changes; it’s been very hot and it’s been cold. Where most students at college wouldn’t be phased by this, the students at Pepperdine University are in a very different and very unique situation. Although the dorms at Pepperdine do have heaters, they are lacking in the air conditioning department.
It has never been a secret that the Pepperdine dorms do not have air conditioning, but with all of the common areas, such as the cafeteria and library, as well as the teaching areas having air conditioning, this has not been too big of a problem.
Southern California has a reputation for September’s temperatures rising above normal; a normal day in Southern California has a temperature in the mid-70s, however in September, the temperatures rise to mid-80s to lower-90s.
This year September had average temperatures being in the mid-90s, but then it didn’t cool down. In October, the temperatures continued to stay in the mid-90s and high-90s, and didn’t leave the high-80s until the week of Thanksgiving. Finally, in mid-November, temperatures dropped down into the mid-60s.
With the unnaturally warmer temperatures, students have been able to find solace in the air conditioned places on campus and seek refuge for the annual “hot month,”
Looking back on 2014, record temperatures were set for it being one of the hottest years since records had started being kept track of. 2015 has knocked those record breaking temperatures out of the water, due to the highly anticipated El Nino.
Temperatures began rising in September, which most Pepperdine students were prepared for, but the temperatures never seemed to drop, in fact, in mid-November, the temperatures were still in the high-80s and the low-90s.
This meant for Pepperdine students, that they were to be prepared to continuously wake up sweating, buying more fans, or spending more time at the beach. With the temperatures climbing and no apparent relief for the residents without air conditioning, the anticipation for El Nino to hit is at the highest it can be.
“I would leave my room when I was in the middle of studying to go to the beach,” said Cassidy Vigil, pre-med student at Pepperdine, “but I wasn’t going for a beach day, but to find some relief from the heat that was circulating my dorm room.”
El Ninos are periodic phenomena that occur simply by the trade winds that are supposed to blow west, beginning to weaken. When the winds weaken, the weather is disrupted not only in Malibu but also all around the world.
As a result of this, stored heat that generally stays in the deep layers of the ocean, rise to the surface and raise global temperatures, like those in Malibu which affect those without air conditioning like the students at Pepperdine.
El Ninos have been around for countless years, but studies show that they are only getting hotter and hotter. The lack of having a cool room to retreat to in these scorching temperatures is detrimentally harmful to the students in terms of their academic focus and success.
“I began sleeping in my car, just so I could be in a cool ‘room,’” said Savannah Sikes, an engineering student at Pepperdine.
In a study done by the Scientific American, it was found that a human’s thought processes and ability to perform tasks comes down to glucose levels in the body.
When exposed to warmer temperatures, there is a depletion of resources, because the body is overworking to maintain homeostasis, therefore causing the body to use large amounts of glucose. Due to glucose being used for mental processes, excessive exposure to warm temperatures causes a reduction in the body’s capacity for cognitive functioning.
In another study done by Amar Cheema and Vanessa M. Patrick, it was found that there was a remarkable difference in the cognitive functions of people who read an article in a warm room, being 77 degrees, versus those who read the same article in a cool room, being 67 degrees.
“With there being a lack of air conditioning in the dorms, I have not been sleeping well,” said Annie Sides, a psychology student at Pepperdine, “thus, the lack of sleep has caused a lack of focus in my classes and then a struggle when I am attempting to do my homework.”
With both studies being done, it was found that tasks, whether they be simple cognitive tasks or complex decision-making, in cooler temperatures were performed better than those who performed the same tasks in warm environments.
“I was very lethargic and it was very frustrating that I couldn’t be in my own room and not be sweating,” said Cydney O’Rear, a pre-med student at Pepperdine University about her experience with the heat and lack of air conditioning in the dorms.
O’Rear continued on to say, “how can you be productive when the constant thing on your mind is how to cool down and not being able to study in my room made me feel more impeded.”
This means that for the students at Pepperdine, and especially this semester with the anticipation of El Nino, grades could possibly be at risk because of the lack of air-conditioning being provided in the dorms on campus.
“My uncle lives off-campus and I spend the majority of my time driving back and forth from his house to campus, just so I can get in a room where I’m not sweating,” said Sara Abston, a pre-med student at Pepperdine. Sara went on to inform that driving back and forth has required her to have longer nights due to driving and it actually takes more time away from studying.
Although the El Nino phenomena does not occur every year, it did not occur in 2014, and temperatures that year broke records from the 1980s that hadn’t been broken before. This could easily be blamed on global warming, but regardless of what the reason may be, the temperatures are continuously getting warmer each year.
The spike in global temperatures does not necessarily mean that Pepperdine needs to install air-conditioning in every room and every dorm. However, the option for air-conditioned rooms should be provided given the circumstance.
“As far as we [the residence advisors] know, there will not be any changes to the air conditioning, or lack thereof, in the dorms,” said Mina Obieta, a resident advisor who works for the housing and residence services at Pepperdine University.
As far as Housing and Residence Life at Pepperdine, after being contacted multiple times, they were reluctant to give a response regarding the lack of air conditioning.
The slight deviations in temperature are naturally a part of human lives and are affected by changes in room locations, buildings, or fluctuations on the outdoors, but Pepperdine cannot argue the fact that there are little to no deviations in the temperatures between the dorms and the outside.
The changes in temperature, or lack thereof, in Pepperdine’s case can clearly have important implications on the ability of the body to make decisions, write a paper, finish a test, or read a book assigned to a class, and with such a lack of awareness on this, students may not know what is causing the problems with their grades.
However with the recent studies and knowing that temperatures do in fact affect the thought process of a student and the tasks that are performed by the students, it would be in the university’s best interest to explore their options in what is being offered and how the lack of air-conditioning, especially in the peak of summer, is affecting students and the way they perform inside the classroom.