In my over three years at Queens College at CUNY, Room 105 in King Hall has to be one of the most miserable classrooms I’ve ever used. The classroom is in a basement level below ground level, which makes it a sad place to teach and learn, but I can get over that. At least, we get a little sunlight through our windows during the day and we can see people’s feet as they walk. However, when the fall comes around, the heating system makes the room almost uninhabitable, and my overheated students are almost passing out from the excessive heat. The heat is bad. Today, I brought a thermometer to class, and the reading at the podium was 83°, a temperature more suited for the beach in August than a classroom in December.
There are two ways to cool off, neither of which is really effective. The first option is to turn on a window-mounted air conditioning unit. The major problem is that when the unit is running, no one can hear me over the noise. I don’t keep it on for long because it is rather ineffective at actually cooling off the room. The second option is to open the windows, which does cool off the room because the windows are above directly the radiator, allowing the heat to escape. However, this option makes it hard to be heard because our classroom is along the flight path at LaGuardia Airport, and the intermettant aircraft noise is too loud for my students to hear me.
The reason for the excessive heat is the overpowering radiator. It runs way too hot for a classroom of our size. Our room is small, probably about 150 square feet, and the radiator runs along the length of the entire room. When I checked the temperature today with an infrared thermometer, it was almost 140°. I believe that’s hot enough to smoke pork.
I received a call about this problem from the labor union, and they were going to publish a story about it in hopes of fixing the problem. That was two years ago, and, except for the college installing the air conditioning unit, nothing has changed. At any rate, I don’t consider this a labor issue. It affects the students as much as it affect my working conditions. It is truly detrimental to student learning, and I hope the college addresses it soon. After all, wouldn’t turning off the heat save money?