The failure of housing to remove the locks on the windows of the Apartment Village has left residents confused and angry.

“Housing has never effectively communicated with us what’s going on with the situation,” said Chris Karch, ’04. “Instead every time you call housing you get a run around and no straight answers.”

Karch is not the only student to complain about difficulty obtaining information about the situation in the apartments.

Jennifer Barrett, ’04, said, “I called housing so many times to find out what was going on and I got a different answer every time. I’m so frustrated with the whole situation.”

When the heat was turned on in the building, residents requested that the locks be removed from the windows. Students were told that housing was looking into the matter and as long as there was no impact on mold growth in the apartments the locks would be removed.

“Since we moved into the building we have been told that the locks would be coming off soon,” said Lauren Helfrich, ’04. “Now we are at the end of October and still nothing has been done. What is going on?”

Housing now has an answer to that question.

“Our consultant conducted a test on the feasibility of unlocking the windows,” said Gary Stephenson, director of housing. “The test indicated that with the drying units off and the windows shut the building’s interior humidity rose to a level that would support mold growth within three hours.”

As a result of the tests, they concluded that it is best for the apartment windows to remain shut and locked, according to housing officials.

“Our concern is to keep the building’s environment clean, the humidity levels low, and the residents comfortable,” said Stephenson. “To that end the university is following the recommendations of our consultants and will keep the windows locked and shut.”

Many students, concerned with fire safety as well as having fresh air, wonder if having their windows locked is legal.

According to Arther Leffert, chair of Fairfield’s board of health, it is.

“Legally, windows are not required to be operable, provided that there is another ‘device’ that will adequately ventilate the room, i.e. HVAC systems,” said Leffert. “If HVAC systems are properly controlled, theoretically there is no need to open the windows and mold growth should not be an issue.”

According to housing more improvements than legally required have been made.

Originally the drying units, which control humidity, were expected to shut down. Now they will stay in place and continue drying the air until the outside temperature is below 45 degrees.

In addition, an air exchange program is in place to circulate fresh air into each apartment and the building itself. “We are monitoring the exchange and set the rate higher than required for the occupancy,” said Stephenson. “This means more fresh air.”

Additional permanent equipment will be installed to assistant in controlling the buildings environment and keeping the rooms comfortable, according to housing.

But students are still not happy.

“They turn the heat on and then they blast the air conditioning,” said Kim Liaw, ’04. “It’s like we have no control. I never know if my room is going to be sweltering or freezing when I come back.”

Students are encouraged to have patience.

“Air handling adjustment is sometimes a trial and error process and the opening of windows during these trial periods can disrupt proper air temperature and humidity control,” said Leffert. “My advice is to allow the engineers time to work out these issues and at the same time the health department will be monitoring the progress.”

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