How MSU-Moorhead students are dealing with the heat


I’ve been trying to find out how students are comping at Minnesota State University – Moorhead ever since professor Elizabeth Kirchoff told me how her students have been suffering in dorm rooms that lack air-conditioning.

So I contacted one of her students, senior education major Matthias Valan, and asked him to take a look around the dorms and report back what he found. These are some of his observations and photos.

The top photo shows a display of outdoor temps that one student made on the community bulletin board.

He said the worst halls seemed to be Holmquist — because of its solid brick structure –and Nelson, because it’s 12 stories tall. (Some resident assistants have told him the upper floors are indeed hotter than the others.)

Valan told me the heat has caused some students to notice a “urine-like smell” in some dorms, and have some told him it was difficult to breathe in their rooms.

dorm group

The goal seems to be to gather as many fans as you can and set up a little wind tunnel so you can bask with friends in the collective breeze.

makeshift AC

Here one student shows off the “air conditioner” she has made from scratch. (Box air conditioners are apparently verboten, because they’re too powerful for the electrical system.)

Freshman education major Cali Fritz told me such devices are turning up all around campus. Students take a styrofoam ice chest, fill it with ice cubes and cut holes in two spots. A fan blows air into one hole (on the right side above), and a pipe releases the just-chilled air (left side above).

bed fan

Fritz said she and her roommate have collected 10 fans in their room — many from Fritz’s relatives — but “it doesn’t seem to make much difference. We don’t sleep very well, because we still wake up with night sweats. It’s so gross.”

She said she has tried wetting her hair with cold water, but that provides little relief.

She and her roommate have actually spent only a couple of nights in their dorm room. For now, the two are sacking out in the basement of Fritz’s grandparents, who live in Fargo. But not many students have that option, she said, because they’re from out of town.

three fans

Student Anthony Munos did his own bit of fan-gathering — three in a room. But he’s another who has been able to escape. He told Valan he hasn’t slept in his room all week — but has instead slept at his cousin’s house.

Valan told me one student athlete has sought refuge at the houses of local teammates. And freshman Chris Duncan told Valan he’s only in his Grantham Hall room when he needs to change clothes.


The administration is allowing students to hang out in the Comstock student union building. It’s not set up for sleeping. But judging from a conversation I had with a university official this morning, if students just happened to conk out while lounging in their chairs, it’s doubtful anyone would try to wake them up.


The lounges seem to be where it’s at — when they’re air-conditioned — and Valan said some students are choosing to sleep there. He said this one is in Grantham Hall.

After a hot night in a dorm, Fritz said:

“It’s hard to concentrate when you’re studying. You definitely have to work a lot harder.”