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Editorial: UCLA Housing needs to provide AC for all dorms on the Hill as temperatures rise

By Editorial Board

Sept. 29, 2022 9:21 p.m.

Editor’s note: Editorials do not represent the Daily Bruin as a whole. The board encourages readers to respond to our editorials at dailybruin.com/submit.

Livable housing should not be a luxury for UCLA’s student body.

As climate change forges forward, many parts of the world, including Southern California, are facing record high temperatures. Just this month, the West saw the worst September heat on record, which caused the National Weather Service to issue a heat advisory for most of Los Angeles County.

For students living in classic dorms or suites, who do not have access to air conditioning in their rooms or most parts of their building, extreme heat events like these threaten their well-being. These pose direct threats to individuals who cannot protect themselves from the heat.

UCLA must begin the process of retrofitting all dorm rooms to include air conditioning as soon as possible. This will significantly improve equity and quality of life for students at a fractional per-student cost.

Bruins should not have to choose between affordable and safe housing.

The four classic dorm buildings represent some of the most affordable options on the Hill, which can be attractive to students who cannot afford an upgrade, are looking to save money or could not live in one of the other room types because of availability.

As it stands, the issue of heat vulnerability on campus disproportionately affects Hill residents from lower-income backgrounds, an issue made doubly impactful because they are more likely to have difficulty accessing supplemental personal cooling devices.

That’s part of why it’s so important that the university step in.

No one should be forced to endure potentially deadly extreme heat in their only private space, and they certainly shouldn’t be expected to complete coursework as usual under those conditions.

While the most recent record heat has passed, this issue hasn’t.

Since UCLA’s classic dorms were built six decades ago, extreme heat events have worsened in Southern California. They are now more deadly, longer-lasting and occur with more regularity.

When it was first made, the decision to keep students in non-air-conditioned housing may not have seemed to be the wrong one, but the decision to continue putting Bruins at the mercy of Southern California weather most certainly does.

That’s especially true because extreme heat is projected to continue to worsen in the coming years. The bet that air conditioning isn’t going to become essential in UCLA housing is a losing one.

If UCLA continues housing students in dorms that were built for a climate of the past, it is only a matter of time before it starts seriously harming students’ health.

The time to address this problem is now, not after it has put Bruins in the hospital.

Procrastinating heat relief for Hill residents is not a viable option.

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