You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

EMU students feel the chill with university heating system possibly on the fritz

By Kellie Woodhouse

Eastern Michigan University junior Aris Yancey went three weeks without heat in her dorm room because of a dysfunctional heating system, the Eastern Echo reports.


Dreamstime image

“My room was 59 degrees. I have never paid $5,000 in the state of Michigan for a small room, a suite-mate and no heat," Yancey told the Echo. "I could see my breath in my room.”

Yancey was issued a space heater as a temporary solution.

But other residents complain that EMU is overcompensating for the cold and turning the heat too high.

“The heat seems to be really sporadic because sometimes I will return to my room and it will be too hot while other times it feels like it is not on at all, even with my window closed,” EMU sophomore Brooke O’Neil told the Echo.

A facilities director told the Echo the glitches were normal.

Read the full report here.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

I guess the picture of the space heater is just a stock photo meant to convey that the article is about people trying to stay warm(?) but it also gives a false impression that the students could turn to space heaters to compensate when in fact they cannot since they are banned. The article should perhaps have mentioned that, especially given the photo insert. Hopefully the situation is solved because I agree with the student that paying that much for a dorm, it should be heated. This stuff about "suck it up" and "where has our country gone if we can't tolerate being a little cold," it's stupid. You could easily turn that around and say "what has this country come to when we don't have reliable heat in relatively expensive dorms in the 21st century." The point is that a problem with heat at a dorm is important, but not a basis to extrapolate sweeping conclusions about the state of our nation or its youth.

Geoff Larcom

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Note: This posting by derives its details from a linked story by The Eastern Echo, EMU's student-run newspaper. Here are some clarifications that will help readers to understand the situations outlined in that story: • The Echo story quotes Bilal Sarsour, Director of Facilities Maintenance, in saying he characterized any temperature issues as "somewhat normal." This is not what he said. As relayed in an email to The Echo, he said the following about the annual start up of heating systems at EMU: "Typically the Physical Plant starts with apartments and residence halls before shifting attention to the classroom and office buildings. Some of the systems are fully automatic, while others require HVAC technicians to manually turn them on. Most of the system components have been idle all summer and it is not unusual to encounter problems once a system is started." Note: By this, Sarsour means "occasional" and not routine. • In addition, it's important to note the Pittman temperature issue was a separate, unusual problem, which the Physical Plant dealt with as outlined below: After a variety of reports and minor, appropriate adjustments in late October regarding temperatures, there were no complaints in early November. On Nov. 10, staff received calls indicating heating problems with one face of the building. On Nov. 11, a decision was made to drain the building heating system in order to work on the control valve. After draining the building and disassembling the valve, staff found a rag lodged in the valve, which was restricting the flow of hot water to radiators for the affected area. The rag was removed, the system was refilled, and the heat was restored. • The target date for the annual heating system start up is October 15th; however, the Physical Plant monitors weather forecasts to determine when the actual start up should begin. Note: Geoff Larcom, a former Ann Arbor News reporter, is executive director of media relations at EMU.

Kara H

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

@hardworker needs to re-read the quote (this time for comprehension, not speed). This isn't a grey matter issue, it's a maintenance issue. I bet most of you would walk off the job if your workplace temp was below 60 degrees or above 80 degrees. Students and their families are paying a lot for the dorm experience and deserve livable/comfortable conditions. If you read the full Eastern Echo article, you'll see that these heating problems are pervasive, but it fluctuates pretty widely. So some students have their windows open, some need to add illegal space heaters to their dorm rooms. Since EMU goes through this every year, it'd be most excellent if they could finally get on top of the situation.

Kara H

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

Unfortunately the students who are opening windows are the ones that are too hot, not the ones that are too cold and can bundle up. The ones that are too cold keep the windows closed and buy space heaters (not allowed in dorms). In the end, as students, with no in-room thermostats, the only thing the CAN do is open windows and complain. Rather than mock the students, I'd point to the admin and maintenance folks and ask that they get their stuff together so that the students aren't trashing the planet. For what it's worth, I should have put "dorm experience" in quotes. It's not what I call it either, but what the EMU promo materials advocate for freshmen.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

@nyx: You're not getting my point. I understand the maintenance issue. I'm criticizing the fact that in somebody's mind it seems fine to complain about cold and at the same time challenge the heat system with open windows. That mentality is implied by the quote "even with my window closed". Just because daddy pays for what you call "the dorm experience", it doesn't mean it's ok to waste energy "with my window" open. There are more efficient means (i.e. winter clothes) to stay warm in your room without trashing the whole planet.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

"[heat ...] other times it feels like it is not on at all, even with my window closed" Dude, Your wording implies that sometimes you feel cold, you have the heat on AND your window is open. If so, you need to be lectured against imprudent behavior. What a waste of energy, you're just making it more expensive to all of us. Like Redwingshero said, wear a sweater or more winter clothes. That's what is wrong with this country. You depleet your vast resources and then cry because it's gone.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

@Tanya: You got me, 2nd typo in a row =D


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

@HardWorker haha deplete is still spelled wrong :P


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

Some people will rather complain about something than use their gray matter for all of 5 minutes and create an innovative way to solve a problem. And we wonder why our country is going in its direction...


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

@Redwingshero: exactly, no rocket science. Typo in my comment: deplet.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Go to meijer and grab a big roll of shrink wrap and duct tape and seal your window off???


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

I'm calling shenanigans that the student could see her breath at 59 degrees.... You are in a enclosed building. 59 is almost twice as warm as it is outside right now. It's EMU's fault, we get it, the heats on the fritz. Put on a sweater/sweatshirt, long pants and stop complaining. Still cold, get to know some people and gather in a small room together. Might want to snuggle up with a co-ed if you need more warmth...


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 8 p.m.

When I went to college, out of state, we had our own controls in our rooms. Now I've got my own place the damn furnace goes out every year! I really need to look into getting a few space heaters...


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

That has always been the problem at EMU. It doesn't matter where you live. I lived in the apartments and has this problem more than once. I have also lived in the dorm and they were always too hot. Way too hot.

Smart Logic

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

Three weeks without heat is not normal. That being said, to the people complaining about heat fluctuation, dorms are never the right temp. We had to open our windows in the winter to compensate at times. It's never going to be perfect and please everyone.