New Policy Allows OPP to Enter Dorm Rooms to Close Windows

OPP now has permission to enter any students’ room whose window is left open. The new policy announced by Dean of Students Marlys Edwards gives OPP the authority to enter the room and close the window to help conserve energy. On February 8th, students received an e-mail from Ms. Edwards informing them of the new OPP policy. Her e-mail stated, “When a window is spotted open from the exterior, the staff member would enter the dorm room and shut the window(s). While he was in the room, he would record the temperature as well as pass on any heat related observations to the HVAC team for corrective action if necessary.” The student reaction was similar to that of fall term after OPP revealed its new search policy, which granted OPP workers permission to enter a locked dorm room for fire inspections. “It’s our privacy… I believe they should alert a house counselor instead of just barging in on the one space we can call our own,” said Mollie Lee ’10, summing up the intrusion felt by some students. While the idea of a stranger entering a dorm room without its occupant present made some students uncomfortable, most accepted the growing need for the new policy. The majority of the campus understands the growing concerns regarding fossil fuels and energy waste. According to PA staff, open windows are a noticeable problem on campus. Mr. Carlos Montanez of OPP management said, “I am amazed at how many windows I see open on a regular basis, especially when it’s freezing outdoors.” However, not all of these open windows are a result of faulty heating systems. Mr. Montanez reported that, in some cases, a hot room may not be the reason for an open window. While some dorms have older heating systems and are more prone to operational problems, there are other explanations for open dorm windows. For example, a house counselor recently informed OPP that one of her students simply liked sleeping with the window open. Personal preference may play a role in determining the success of the new OPP policy. Some students believe that the administration should consider replacing the current heating system. While installing a completely new system for the entire campus would be difficult, the heating systems in Andover dorms are “typically replaced or substantially improved upon during any major renovation of the dorm,” according to Mr. Montanez. OPP also performs heating system upgrades, enhancements and routine maintenance throughout the year in all Andover dorms. In some cases, however, it is impractical to make improvements on a specific room’s heating in the middle of winter. In these instances, OPP waits until the milder weather of spring, when they can turn off the heating, take apart the system and look for the source of problem. Although OPP cannot determine the exact amount of energy wasted due to open windows, the administration’s view on the matter is that any amount of waste is too much. Although, Andover accepts that “on such a large campus it is difficult to be 100% efficient,” the community strives to conserve energy in all practical ways possible, according to Ms. Edwards. As Andover enters the third week of the Green Cup Challenge, it seems a well-timed move on OPP’s behalf to reveal its new policy while the campus has turned its attention to the environmental, as well as economical, need to conserve energy. Students hope that the new OPP policy will be less of a privacy infraction and more of a chance for OPP to help them with heating issues through the long months of winter. With outdated heating systems, many students find themselves either sweating or shivering in their dorms.