Freezing and running as fast as she can, Krista Simkins runs back to her dorm to change out of the shorts and T-shirt she put on in the morning. She is frustrated because the windows in her dorm don’t open so she never knows what the weather feels like before going to class.
“I’m usually rushing to track practice in the morning and I don’t know whether to wear sweats or shorts,” Simkins said. “Sometimes I can rush back between classes to change but sometimes I don’t have the time to grab a sweater.”
Simkins isn’t alone in her frustration.
“If you could stick your hand out the window to feel the weather it would be nice,” Doreen Gidali, junior, said.
Simkins and Gidali live in Pearson, one of three dorms with windows that have been sealed shut.
The windows in Mahoney/Pearson and Eaton once opened by means of a crank. Hurricane Andrew changed all that when it ripped through South Florida in 1992.
“Many of the windows in the dorms leaked, causing considerable damage to rooms and student property,” Jon Baldessari, associate director of residence halls, said.
Baldessari said some students even opened their windows during the category five storm and then expected the university to pay for damage to their personal items. This caused the university to permanently seal the windows in Mahoney/Pearson and Eaton to ensure student and property safety.
Not all students are stuck wishing they could get fresh air; some actually have it.
The 12-story Hecht and Stanford towers built in the late 1960s have windows that open and even come with hurricane shutters. The apartments built in the late 1940s and early 1950s also have windows that open, but they do not have hurricane shutters.
“Each building has a unique construction,” Baldessari said. “We can’t necessarily add on or take away from the buildings.”
Having windows that open comes with some drawbacks.
Jonathan Cofino, a senior who lives in Stanford, said even though his window opens and closes, the area around the base has not been properly sealed with caulk. As a result, there is leakage when it rains and he also feels the effects of the humidity.
“It gets really stuffy and stinky in here a lot,” Cofino said. “It gets so humid that I have to empty a bag of water from a de-humidifier nearly every day from the moisture that collects in the air.”
Humidity is not a problem in the dorms with sealed windows.
“The air conditioning system in Mahoney/Pearson and Eaton is designed [so]that air is actually brought in from the outside, which prevents humidity and circulating air,” Baldessari said.
Cofino, who lived in Eaton before moving into Stanford, said he will take the leaks and humidity over odors that have nowhere to go.
“Bathroom odors are the worst because they have nowhere to go, except in your room since the windows can’t open,” he said. “And when you share the bathroom with three other guys that can get kinda nasty.”
Baldessari has gotten calls asking why the windows don’t open, but he said reopening the windows in Mahoney/Pearson and Eaton is not an option.
“Sealing the windows turned out to be a good investment because there’s much less potential for damage from water intrusion and wind,” he said.
Sealing the windows may have been a good investment for the university, but if you’re coming to UM for Miami’s balmy breezes and cool winter air, steer clear of Mahoney/Pearson and Eaton.
Chaya Minkowitz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.