To Survive the Heatwave, Brookdale Dorm Residents Sleep in Cafeteria

HUNTER COLLEGE–In the scalding heat of a summer night, Steven Gray gets ready for bed. A Hunter College senior living at Brookdale, one of the college’s dorms, Gray’s nighttime routine slightly differs from the average person. In addition to brushing his teeth and putting on pajamas, Gray grabs his blanket and sleepily shuffles his way to the cafeteria, where other students are already there, putting together chairs to create makeshift beds. He settles into the most comfortable-looking row of plastic chairs, rests his head on a pillow and closes his eyes for the night. It is currently a heatwave, and the cafeteria is the only air-conditioned space in the entire building.

Brookdale houses up to 650 Hunter students for both academic and summer sessions. Yet, there are no air vents provided nor air conditioning units allowed in the dorms. Gray resided in Brookdale for the 2021-2022 academic year, including this summer. To describe the experience of living in Brookdale during a heatwave, Gray says that unbearable isn’t even the right word. 

“It got to the point where I used to open my fridge and place a fan inside it just to blow some cold air,” Gray said. “The door handle to my room would quite literally be hot to the touch at all times. It would get so hot in my room that the heat would wake me up, always dripping in sweat.”