By Vicky Ngyuen
The Kinesiology Department has filed a work environment grievance for lack of air conditioning in several rooms within department buildings.
The grievance was filed in August after repeated failures to rectify the problem over the course of eight years. The grievance was for lack of air conditioning in fitness rooms as well as faculty offices. Faculty have since been moved to bungalows, but the lack of air conditioning in the classrooms are still pending.
The Kinesiology Department rooms are riddled with falling ceiling tiles, including tiles falling from high ceilings in the North gym E9 103. Faculty have also taken notice of dead cockroaches and dripping showers.
“We have been pleading for A/C for many years. For ceilings, we have numerous work orders. They’re just overlooked. Things are not taken care of,” Kinesiology Chair Erika Blanco said. “We have had numerous presidents. When there’s a change, it’s almost like you have to start the process all over. You have to meet with them and express what’s been going on, and then of course, give them an opportunity (to respond). You’re back to square one every three or four years.”
While a new building for the department is expected to be built in eight years, Blanco said it does not excuse the need for immediate relief. The new building being promised has not yet been approved.
The lack of air conditioning in rooms has taken a toll on students to points of danger. Blanco said a student was found passed out one night after a Zumba class and had to be taken by paramedics.
“Students pass out. Students throw up. They’ll have to walk out and throw up because it’s too hot. You have almost 40, 45 students in your classes and it heats up and they’re doing high intensity exercise in the spinning room. It’s not safe,” professor Lindsay Costello said.
Over the years, faculty have dealt with heat by canceling classes and reducing activity in classes. “It does affect the integrity of the curriculum,” Blanco said.
“You’re limited to what you can do with your students in a physical activity class, because if it’s too hot, you don’t want a student to get heat exhaustion. The students aren’t getting the most out of their physical activity class,” Professor Lorraine Jones said.
Jannet Lastimoso is taking Zumba classes in the spin room that does not have proper air conditioning. She said that the heat is bad enough to reconsider taking more classes.
“Several times, I felt way dizzy, and almost collapsed,” Lastimoso said.
Another Zumba student, Ana Oregel, said the lack of air conditioning made her feel that fitness programs were being neglected in comparison to other disciplines.
“The buildings being too old are not an excuse, “Oregel said. “When the chemistry buildings were too old, they built a new one. We can’t even get A/C? That’s pretty messed up.”
Blanco said that she and other faculty members are hesitant to speak out about the problems, but she felt that the issues have come to a breaking point.
“At what point is enough, enough? I don’t think we’re asking for much,” Blanco said. “We’re just really trying to seek support for our students in the now. Our kids deserve better.”
Administration could not be reached for comment.