Nearly a month after a prolonged heat outage prompted administrators to cancel in-person classes, some Bronx Community College students say they’ve gone from one extreme to the other.
“I sometimes have to wear clothes that aren’t appropriate for the weather outside because it’s too hot in the room,” said Maxieli Lingua, a freshman.
She and other students had to suddenly switch to online classes last month due to heating issues.
Students were allowed back on campus after the Thanksgiving break, and a Bronx Community College spokesman said the college’s three boilers are now operational. A replacement boiler was also brought to the campus.
The disruption came at a price for some students.
“This blew my mind because I can’t adapt to change as quickly as they expected me to. So I haven’t been doing too much productivity-wise this week and I’m hoping it gets better,” said Naomi Montesdeoca, a freshman.
Some faculty members say the college’s heating problems are part of a larger problem of infrastructure neglect, divestments and lack of funding across CUNY, and that students are paying the price.
“For as long as I’ve been at CUNY, it has been underfunded and the impact has been cumulative,” said Sharon Utakis, the college’s English professor. “Repairs are deferred, and then they get more expensive, and then they’re deferred even longer, and then they like a half-repair rather than a full repair, so it’s a serious underfunding problem.”
Last week, Utakis and other members of the union, which represents academic workers, joined student leaders in demanding that Gov. Hochul increase funding for community colleges by $78 million.
They are also calling on the city council to reject Mayor Eric Adam’s proposed spending cuts, citing staff shortages and the closure of facilities like the closed cafeteria at Hostos Community College, which they say are depriving students of a quality education.
“We need more money to improve the buildings and have enough staff,” Utakis said.
Students say that having a safe and comfortable learning environment is not asking too much.
Speaking of heating issues and other issues, Lingua added, “It’s a community college [and] I know I would expect that, but it shouldn’t be because it’s a college.