“The dorm’s too hot, there’s no choice but to hug a winter melon to cool down and get to sleep.” For several days, the temperature has been steadily increasing in Guangzhou, with many city residents taking shelter in the cool of their air conditioned apartments. But recently, some students at Guangdong University of Technology and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in University City have told reporters that despite having requested the installation of air conditioning for many years, it has never been made available. Many students are unable to stand the heat, and have no choice but to hug a winter melon to cool down at night. A Guangdong University of Foreign Studies student also told reporters that although their dormitory has air conditioning, the school is very slow to turn it on even after the weather turns hot.
Regarding the installation of air conditioning, a manager from the facilities center at Guangdong University of Technology explained that the school has started a basic inspection, but no specific timeline has been set. Guangdong Foreign Studies University facilities said that according to the school’s rules, cooling functions on the central air conditioning units would begin on June 1st, but that they would also take the student requests into consideration.
College students: Winter melons help beat the heat
In the past few days, a Weibo posting that read, “Hug a winter melon while you sleep, your body temperature will drop by 3 degrees Celsius” was reposted by a large number of users. Additional information stated that this was a home remedy for people from the south China coast trying to beat the heat. It caused quite a few university students in Guangdong to take up the method.
“As a suffering air conditioning-less architecture student, I have no choice but to hug a winter melon to sleep.” This post, written by a Guangdong University of Technology Dongfeng Road Campus student username @啊霆子 on May 19th, was reposted by many other students who read it. Reporters got in touch with the original poster, a second-year architecture student named Hong. He told reporters that he got his winter melon from a nearby supermarket. “It’s about 5 kilograms, and cost me 15 RMB. I’ve used it for two days, and the results have been good.”
Additionally, a second-year student named Zhang who lives at the Guangdong Foreign Studies University University City Nanyuan Dormitory said that he has tried sleeping with a winter melon. He posted about his experience on his Weibo account. Zhang told reporters, “Hugging the winter melon to sleep felt very cool, I slept the whole night through.”
Guangdong University of Technology has no A/C, Guangdong Foreign Studies University won’t use their A/C
As for the lack of air conditioning at Guangdong University of Technology, one student helplessly joked, “You have your air conditioning, I have my winter melon; I am a Guangdong University of Technology student, and I speak for my winter melon.” (“你有你的空调，我有我的冬瓜；我是广工人，我为冬瓜代言”, note: this is a parody of a popular advertising campaign by online clothing retailer Vancl). Reporters learned that it is not only the Dongfeng Road Campus that does not have air conditioning, and that the campus of the university located in University City has also lacked air conditioning for all these years.
“The students who are from Guangzhou are helplessly hot [in the dorms], but they can go back home two out of three nights. Those of us who are far away from home can only boil,” said one third-year student who lives on a high level of a Dongfeng Road Campus dormitory. All the students from Guangdong University of Technology interviewed said they hoped for air conditioning to be installed soon. “We’d be willing to pay for electricity and service charges as long as the information was made public. A comfortable living environment is important for our studies.”
And at the dorms with air conditioning at Guangdong Foreign Studies University, the students are still not able to enjoy the cold air. One student named Ai told reporters that students have complained to facilities numerous times, with the only response being that all of University City turns on the air conditioning at the same time. Reporters learned that in 2012, the university ordered the south campus centrally air conditioned residential and academic areas to provide periodic cooling, with the dormitories beginning on June 1st and ending with the end of summer vacation. “We can understand the school management, but can’t they use the air conditioning according to the changes in temperature in University City?”
Ai suggested that the air conditioning plan could be made more humane. “The first step is to start next year, when the temperature outside reaches 28 degrees celsius, the whole school should turn on the air conditioning, including in academic buildings, labs, dorms, the library, and offices. The second step is to to modify a portion of the student dorms to have independently operated air conditioning, for those students willing to have it. This would be fair for those who don’t want to pay higher electricity bills.”
The two campuses will have to wait for cool air
Yesterday, a reporter posing as a student consulted with a manager of the facilities center at Guangdong University of Technology. The manager explained that relevant departments from the school had previously begun investigations for the installation of air conditioning, and that the school is discussing the matter. “Installing air conditioning is a huge project, and involves costs, renovations, maintenance, and numerous other issues.” The manager explained that the school has already done some basic work for the installation, but that there was still no timeline for when the dorm would be equipped. He also noted that due to current limitations on the electrical circuitry at the school, students are not allowed to use personal air conditioning units.
Guangdong Foreign Studies University posted on the school’s facilities department’s official Weibo account yesterday in response to students. “Dear students, air conditioning issues cannot be resolved by any single department. We hope you understand. Everyone may make reasonable appeals and suggestions to the school via various channels. We must all work hard until we can see results. We’ve collected suggestions from the web and forwarded them already, and are also working hard to win over the school. The most recent news is that before June 1st, air conditioning will be turned on in residential areas according to the temperature.” But staff from the university’s facilities department told reporters yesterday, “As for when specifically the air conditioning will be turned on, we still have to wait for the school’s Party Committee to consider the issue and make a decision.”
Original publication date: 5/22/13