Aug 14th, 2022, 08:00 AM

The Time is Now for A/C at AUP

By Daniel Lucas
Photo Credit: Unsplash/ Vladislav Nikonov

Students coming to AUP from the United States are often informed prior to their arrival to expect some culture shock and trouble adapting to a Parisian way of living. Most come expecting there to be a learning curve to living in a foreign country with different customs, mastering a new language, and, more generally, dealing with the notoriously rude Parisian populace. There is, however, a certain expected parity in the quality of life coming from the United States to France.

For the most, part this is the case. Paris, in many ways, is like any metropolitan city in the US. Riding the metro is even easier to navigate than the subway in New York. Parks and other green spaces offer the occasional natural oasis among the concrete jungle, and you are never more than a few minutes away from a grocery store.

However, there exists one distinct and important difference in Parisian living. Besides having to ask for ice in your drink and the fact that cigarettes don’t count if taken with a croissant, the biggest change for Americans living in Paris is adapting to the egregious lack of air conditioning across the city.

City codes in Paris prohibit the alteration of historic buildings in central Paris, making it impossible to install fixed A/C units in these buildings. Coming from the United States where 87% of U.S. households have air conditioning, it is a complete shock that Parisians do without and that AUP does so little to accommodate.

Image credit: Unsplash/ Andrea Maschio

AUP junior, Alyssa Edmison has learned the hard way that when she has to close her window to block out the noise of construction her apartment can reach over 29°C or roughly 85°F. The ideal temperature for sleep can actually range as low as 4° below the typical non-AUP room temperature of 72°F, a temperature completely unachievable in Edmison’s AUP-affiliated housing.

Sleeping in a room 13°F above baseline is not comfortable, to say the least, and can have detriments to one’s health. The body has to drop between 1-3 degrees Fahrenheit to fall asleep and increases in body temperature can cause the body to wake more often throughout the night.

While there are some tricks AUP students can utilize to help themselves fall asleep such as taking a hot shower prior to bed or a conveniently placed ice pack. Doing so will either further heat the smaller housing options, such as Edmison’s La Defense unit, or an entire night feeling like they wet the bed.

Image credit: Unsplash/ Nathan Dumlao

To the university's credit, two (2) of the housing options do offer air conditioning, those being the 4-star Citadines Aparthotel and the Residhome Residences. For those in other housing options, you are more or less out of luck. Jennifer Larson, the Manager of Residential Life, claims that the housing office makes a concerted attempt to "try to distribute fans to students" in the Champs Elysees and Musset housing; what complications could arise to make this simple task a 'try' rather than a 'do' are beyond me. Additionally, Larson states that the housing office does not have any plans to extend this intended distribution of fans to any of the other ten housing locations without air conditioning as doing so would be "very costly" to provide and "problematic" for the university if those units were to break down and require maintenance.

It should be noted that the Champs Elysees residence does have access to air conditioning, although according to resident advisor Sandra Lefaure the A/C is not to be used until the end of May (after most students have left) or temperatures exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Being an American university, it is not too much to ask that AUP take more care in providing students living in university assigned housing with basic accommodations to help them keep their living spaces within a reasonable temperature range. Housing at AUP can cost students more than €11,000 a semester, nearly as much as tuition. A portable A/C unit begins at roughly €400. Likely too much for most students to justify as a short-term purchase for a two-semester stay in AUP housing, but almost certainly reasonable for AUP to spread across years of house payments from students.

If the university would like to take a cheaper route, a solid desk fan would run them about €30.

Perhaps AUP's trustees might find that the university's money would be better spent by administrators on these basic accommodations rather than on buying each student a custom cloth mask that they are not allowed to use in class or building 'very costly' theaters with backwards acoustics in the new Montessuey building.

Ultimately, there are easy,  solutions that have not yet been taken by AUP administrators that would make AUP housing, from the palatial apartments on Champs Elysees to the dystopian hellscapes that are the YouFirst campuses, significantly more welcoming to students.