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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Registered, portable air conditioners allowed in Thomas and Buckman halls

Thomas Hall was not Husam Wahdan?s first choice. Because he turned in his housing paperwork late, he was assigned to one of the two non-air-conditioned residence halls on campus. The freshman and his roommates tried to cool themselves with fans in the windows but still had trouble sleeping in the heat. But relief was just around the corner.

The UF housing administrative staff approved the use of portable air conditioners in Thomas and Buckman halls this semester after years of complaints and complications.

"My roommate came with the A/C, and we worshipped him," Wahdan said.

Electrical service to the buildings was upgraded and portable air conditioners are available that will not compromise the historic architecture of the buildings, Sharon Blansett, assistant director of housing, said in an e-mail. These were the two major roadblocks to the program.

The halls are coveted by some students because of their proximity to restaurants and nightlife on University Avenue. Others loathe them because they are the only two residence halls on campus without air conditioning.

The new air conditioning units are a relief to some students.

"I think it?s great," Thomas Hall resident Dylan Meredith said. "Actually, I?m going to check and see if it?s come in right now. The room?s pretty hot without it."

One unit is allowed per room, and although it doesn?t cool the entire living space, it does help, Wahdan said.

Residents must register with the Murphree Area Office and provide their own air conditioners that meet certain guidelines, provided by the housing department. Window units are not allowed, and the portable units must have exhaust kits.

In return, students get air-conditioned rooms with no additional utility charges for the academic year.

Housing staff anticipates additional utility charges in the future, but the program is still in its beginning stages, Blansett said. Part of the program is to determine the demand for the units and to see how often students will use them during the school year.

Blansett said there are currently 61 rooms with air conditioning units, comprising 41 percent of the rooms in the two buildings.

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She said about one-half of the residents were interested in adding the portable units to their rooms. The other half was more interested in keeping rental rates low.

Housing administration has discussed the possibility of students selling the units to new residents when they move out, but Blansett said housing won?t be playing a role in those transactions.

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