Unable To Provide Air Conditioning, St. John’s Offers Resident Students Ice Cream Instead

The University’s decision comes after a three-day heatwave.

SJU students lined up across Montgoris Dining Hall to receive free ice cream.
Torch Photo / Olivia Seaman

The St. John’s University Office of Residence Life offered free ice cream for resident students in response to a lack of air conditioning in the residence halls during the three-day heatwave. Two ice cream trucks were set up across Montgoris Dining Hall and behind Donovan Hall from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Temperatures on the Queens campus have reached highs of 86 degrees this week and have left students hot and uncomfortable in their rooms. 

“My room has been extremely hot this week. Even after using a fan, it hasn’t made the temperature any better,” said O’Connor Hall resident Sophie Folman in a text. “It’s frustrating that with the money students pay to live on campus, the school’s heating and cooling can’t afford to keep up with the weather.” 

The announcement was made in an email sent to all resident students from Vice President of Student Success and Retention Strategy Sarah Kelly at 2 p.m. 

“I know for students who live on campus, the temperature variations over the next few weeks will be particularly challenging. I also know that this week many of you have been experiencing uncomfortably warm conditions in your rooms, and I’m sorry for that,” said Kelly in the email. “Unfortunately, Facilities is not able to quickly move air conditioning and heat given out physical plant.”

“Making the campuswide switch from heating to air conditioning is a time-consuming process,” said Brian Browne, University spokesperson. “Once the switch is made, it cannot be simply switched back to heating.” 

“The Facilities Department monitors the long-range weather forecast and schedules the campus-wide transition when there are sustained daytime temperatures in the 70s or more,” Browne added. “This unusual three-day heatwave is an anomaly for early April, and we need to preserve the ability to provide heat when cooler temperatures return, as is anticipated for next week.” 

“It’s very typical,” said junior Adrianna Diab of the University’s decision to offer ice cream to students. “It’s a nice distraction, but I think [the school] is avoiding confrontation through ice cream.”

“Ice cream and vegan ices were provided as a gesture of goodwill,” said Browne. 

“It’s not a fair trade-off to give students one free ice cream cone for air conditioning, but if they’re not going to turn on the AC, I’d rather get free ice cream,” McCarthy said. 

According to Browne, the Facilities Services department will provide air-conditioning in the buildings no later than May 8, just three days before most students must move out of the residence halls. 

“I think that it’s nice on their part, and it’s a great way to cool off in this heat,” said sophomore Bella Batrez. 

“I realize it is not the same as providing air conditioning, but I hope it is a helpful respite for at least a bit,” said Kelly in the email. 

The University currently has two buildings that offer air conditioning in the Tobin College of Business and Carnesecca Arena. The building hours have been extended until 8 p.m. today to keep students cool.

Browne said that most University buildings can only run to provide either heating or cooling services at a time. 

Making the campuswide switch from heating to air conditioning is a time-consuming and complicated process that requires draining pipes, filling them with chilled water, testing the overall system for leaks, checking the system functionality, making any necessary repairs to pipes and valves, which require the assistance of external vendors,” Browne noted. “It is important to realize that once the switch to air conditioning is made, it cannot be simply switched back to heating.”

Following record-high temperatures across New York City this week, temperatures will fall into the 60-degree range starting tomorrow, according to AccuWeather. Temperatures are not expected to exceed 70 degrees until mid-May.