Hill Hall

Hill Hall on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia experienced an AC outage and a cockroach infestation during the week of August 31, 2020. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

Cockroaches love hot and humid environments, and the University of Georgia’s Hill residence hall provided just the spot this week. 

Air conditioning units in the resident’s rooms stopped working early Tuesday morning, university spokesperson Stan Jackson said in an email to The Red & Black. Temperatures reached a high of 90 degrees later that afternoon.  

Temporary air conditioning units were installed by 3 p.m. Wednesday. University Housing employees tried installing the units on Tuesday, but the building’s electrical system couldn’t handle the power demand, Jackson said.

Some residents noticed air conditioning problems before Tuesday. Cockroach complaints also surfaced in the dorm’s GroupMe on Aug. 28. Jackson said University Housing’s pest control contractor treated the exterior of Hill, Church and Boggs halls Monday. 

“We recognize [the air conditioning outage] is an inconvenience for residents and apologize for any discomfort it may cause,” said Jackson, who serves as assistant to the vice president of student affairs

The discomfort isn’t anything new for first-year chemistry major Samaa Khan, who hasn’t slept comfortably since she arrived on campus. She currently sleeps on her futon due to the cockroach issue. Khan said she has killed as many as 20 cockroaches per day. 

“We pay thousands of dollars to live in a comfortable living environment,” Khan said. “We’re not given that. We have so many problems.” 

During the outage, Khan liked to step into the slightly-cooler hallway every 10 minutes for a much-needed break from the heat. Other residents sat in the hallways to do their school work, Khan said. 

“It’s been so hot and stuffy, you can’t even breathe,” said Khan, who lives on the third floor. “Everything in our room is melted. All the snacks, even our shampoos are very, very liquified.”    

Some Hill residents stayed at a hotel on Tuesday night, Khan said. Khan’s floormate Lydia Choi, a first-year pharmaceutical sciences major, said she submitted multiple work requests but didn’t receive personal responses. 

The students’ work requests, Jackson said, allowed the university to quickly respond to the heat and bug problems. 

“As issues arise, we ask our residents to continue to input work requests to bring it to our attention,” he said. “We will be working closely with pest control and our housing building services team to keep Housing spaces free of pests.”

The malfunctioning air conditioners began with an “issue with the chiller in the building”, according to an email sent to residents Tuesday.  

Leslie Oroyemi, a first-year student living on the second floor, said Hill residents had to avoid a large puddle of water in the dorm’s lobby around the same time as the air conditioning outage. She said her dorm has paled in comparison to the living experience at the newly renovated Russell and Brumby Halls. The high-rise dorms cost about $3,000 per semester, the same rate as Hill Hall, one of two all-female residence halls at UGA. 

“If we’re paying the same as they are, we should be getting the same treatment as they are,” Oroyemi said. “It’s kind of nasty that all of this stuff is happening. I understand that they’re not going to be able to renovate every hall, every year. But they should at least do things to make it clean.”

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