Heat causes computer lab to close

Jessica Sasseen

The temperature outside was 64 degrees, but the needle on the thermometer in the library computer lab hovered around 85. The air inside was heavy and stale, yet students kept on typing.

The lab was not scheduled to close until midnight, but even with the help of fans and propped open doors, officials decided at 3:45 p.m. it was too hot to allow students to continue working.

“We’ve got somewhat of an official policy that if it gets 85 degrees or hotter in here we close the lab,” said Harlan senior MikeCQ Blanton, a library worker. “Because the computers are new, we don’t want to mess with them.

Computer Lab Operations Manager Tonya ArcheyCQ said she thinks bad ventilation caused the heat problem in the library lab.

“If it feels 85 in here it’s usually a lot hotter due to humidity,” she said. “It’s worst in the fall and spring during the change of seasons.”

The heat in the library lab has a history of damaging the computers. Before the new computers were installed, Blanton said some of the old computers had been damaged by the heat.

The heat will cause the computer to over heat and turn itself off, Archey said.

“In a worst case scenario it will burn out the power supply,” she said. “But we’ve never had that happen. They will tolerate a lot of heat.”

Archey said she was told the heat in the building has been turned off, but with the machines running and people in the room, something needs to be done.

She said officials were prompted to start closing the lab last spring break when a student worker was hospitalized for heat exhaustion.

The lab closes about twice a year because of heat, she said.

“We do try to use closing as a last resort, but when it does get smothering up here we close for the students safety,” Archey said.

When the lab officially closed at 4:30 p.m., the students that had stuck out the heat were sent to other open labs around campus. Because of a computer database unique to Western, library officials were able to quickly find open computers stations at all the labs on campus for students.

Yesterday, students were directed to about 200 open computers scattered at the Downing University Center, Grise Hall, Cherry Hall and the Thompson Complex.

Archey encourages her staff and students using the lab to drink a lot of water during the warmer days to keep hydrated.

Patrick MwansaCQ, a graduate student from Zambia, comes to the library computer lab about three times a week.

“I see no reason to close it because of heat, there’s fans,” Mwansa said. “Sitting here, I don’t feel any discomfort. It has been this way for the past two weeks.”

Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]