The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Thermostat issues affect Eagle residents

3 min read

Apartment residents wrapped their fish tank in a towel to keep their Betta fish warm. | Jess Kirby/The Weekly Ringer


News Editor

Ever since Adara MacDonnell, a junior political science major, moved into Eagle Landing, she has had issues with her thermostat. No matter what temperature she set it to, the thermostat would reset and not heat the room above 68 degrees. She and her suitemates filed work orders, but nothing Facilities did fixed it. They continued to have issues with the thermostat, and one morning, they woke up to an apartment that was 59 degrees.

“Not having heat in the middle of winter is absolutely miserable,” she said. “I usually sleep with multiple blankets, including an electric blanket, but I would still wake up at three [in the] morning from the cold. … It got to the point that it became hard to function normally because we were all so cold.”

The cold was also affecting other household members.

“The fish tank in the kitchen had to be wrapped in a towel to insulate the heat at one point because the tank dropped nearly 10 degrees and was getting too cold for the fish,” said MacDonnell.

MacDonnell’s thermostat issue is part of a wider, long-term problem facing students in Eagle Landing. 

An email sent to Eagle Landing residents on Aug. 13, 2021, stated that Facilities had become aware of thermostat issues in the building.

“Each apartment in Eagle Landing has an individual thermostat that gives you a certain measure of control over the AC and the heat in your living space,” said the email from the Office of Residence Life and Housing. “These thermostats are tied to our Building Automation System (BAS) that monitors each thermostat and can be used to set points and temperature ranges. Facility services has discovered a problem with the BAS that could potentially affect your environment control.”

Throughout the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters, MacDonnell and her roommate group placed three work orders regarding the thermostat. Though Facilities responded to these quickly and tried different tactics to fix the thermostat through the system instead of in person, the issue kept happening.

“It wasn’t until it snowed on Jan. 16 and the apartment dropped down to 59 degrees that we called non-emergency police,” said MacDonnell. Because it was the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, no one could come fix it until that Tuesday. “However, they did provide us with three space heaters for the rooms.”

Almost a week later, Facilities came to the apartment to fix the thermostat, and it has been working ever since. 

“It was really frustrating because we’d been experiencing this issue for a long time,” said Lauryn Bailey, MacDonnell’s suitemate and a junior history major in the secondary education program. “Once we could actually get Facilities in-person, they were really helpful, but I think they’ve been very overworked … they didn’t have the time beforehand.”

Although the heaters warmed their apartment, they caused electrical issues in one of the rooms.

“They gave us these heaters to use, but just in our bedroom it caused the power to go out randomly throughout the day, and it wouldn’t turn back on on its own so we had to reset the breaker,” said Bailey.  

Junior studio art major Olivia Breda has also experienced a broken thermostat in Eagle Landing. 

“We have had constant thermostat issues since we moved in sophomore year,” said Breda. “No matter how many times we set the temperature up it always reverts back to 68 degrees and feels even colder because it kicks on the [air conditioning] to get there. Winter or summer, our apartment is always freezing.”

The cold has made it uncomfortable to live and study in the dorm for Breda and her roommates.

“It makes it difficult to get up for classes in the morning because the apartment’s been cooling since the last time one of us turned the heat up before we went to sleep, and especially during online classes it was impossible to sit and pay attention in a freezing cold apartment,” she said.

She has not placed work orders or contacted Facilities to get it fixed.

“We haven’t tried to get these issues fixed because we’ve heard that others have also been dealing with it and as far as we know nothing has been done,” Breda said.

Any student that has an issue can fill out a work order request form found on the university’s website.