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Kinda Late, Completely Legit, Not-at-all Satirical Tips for Surviving Without AC

Almost no undergraduate housing at Harvard College has air conditioning installed.
Almost no undergraduate housing at Harvard College has air conditioning installed. By Angela Dela Cruz
By Mireya Sánchez-Maes, Crimson Opinion Writer
Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. ​​​​​​​

Does your dorm room feel like Dante’s seventh circle of hell? Do you now personally identify with that scene where Frosty the Snowman becomes a sentient sweat puddle? Are you looking more and more like a microwaved popsicle?

If so, congratulations on completing your first week at Harvard University! While some students may complain of trivial inconveniences such as “sweltering dorms” and “emergency heat advisories,” I’m writing to assure you that this weather is perfectly normal and completely temporary, so don’t fret about that lack of air conditioning!

Now you might be thinking, “But, Mireya, my room feels hotter than Hugh Jackman in the Sahara. Is this not a safety issue?!?!” Yes, yes it is! But as the saying goes, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” At least, that’s what HUDS workers were forced to do when temperatures in the Mather House servery became so intense that administrators had to close the dining hall in order to protect workers from the suffocating heat.

But worry not! As the Dean of Students Office reminds us, Harvard has many air conditioned spaces to offer students a blissful reprieve from Cambridge’s oppressive heat, such as our gyms, our libraries, and the Smith Campus Center. So if you find yourself struggling to sleep in your 90-degree dorm-oven, just grab your pillow and head on down to Lamont! In my time at Harvard, students have slept everywhere from dining halls to labs to libraries simply to escape their sweltering rooms. Trust me, you’ll have company.

Now if you’re worried about having to sleep in a library every night, rest assured that these warm days are numbered. The hottest temperatures in Cambridge last from mid-June to mid-September, and luckily for us, no one lives on Harvard’s campus in the summer.

Well, except for summer school students. And student researchers. And maybe some athletes. And theater people. And graduate students. And PBHA students. And high-schoolers. And also some international students. But they’re probably fine, I imagine.

Still, for those of you who’d rather not move into your lab to avoid waking up in a pool of your own sweat, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks for surviving Harvard’s sweltering dorms. Enjoy.

1) Drink lots and lots of water. This will make you need to pee, giving you frequent, wonderful excuses to book it to the nearest public restroom — which, unlike your dorm, is probably air conditioned.

2) Hang out in air-conditioned spaces. If you’re unsure of which spaces have air conditioning, use this simple trick. Do Harvard administrators work there? If so, it’s probably air conditioned.

3) Get many, many fans. Make them follow you on Twitter. Mobilize them with charismatic tweets. Convince them to write and perform a groundbreaking, 20-hour rock-opera about the importance of central air conditioning units. Trick Harvard’s administration into attending by telling them it’s a Kroks concert. They will be so moved that they’ll have no choice but to immediately install portable AC.

4) Wear fewer clothes. This will help you discover your rockin’ bod and boost your self-esteem. This newfound confidence will put a swagger in your step that’ll make you feel infinitely cooler!

5) Close your blinds during the day. This will prevent any outsiders from looking into your room and seeing the portable air conditioner that you secretly installed to prevent yourself from turning into a student-shaped puddle.

6) Reach out to other students. Especially ones living in DeWolfe or the Inn. These dorms are some of the few that have working air conditioners. Befriend these lucky students. Seduce them. Do whatever it takes to drink in some of that sweet, sweet AC.

7) Take cold showers. The freezing cold water will provide a shock to your system, causing you to momentarily forget your hot and sticky reality. You will soon begin to crave this feeling and seek it out in other places. You will become interested in sky-diving. Bungee jumping. Cliff diving. You will become so good that you are offered an unpaid, full-time internship performing dangerous and life-threatening stunts with Cirque du Soleil. You can then leave Harvard and take the offer immediately, for Cirque du Soleil has air conditioning.

So, yeah, I hope that advice was helpful. In all seriousness, though, it’s high time that Harvard upped its AC game. Climate change is here to stay, and expecting students and House staff to live and work in sweltering conditions without proper cooling systems becomes more unethical every year.

Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House.

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