11/9/09 Ask Charlotte

Question: Why are all the dorms and buildings really warm even when it's warm outside? I live in Saxton, and I sweat even if I am lying in bed. Is there a way to turn down the heat in our rooms?

Answer: This is an issue that comes up periodically—particularly in spring and fall, when outside temperatures may vary greatly. We need look no further than earlier this week for such an example—when the day began very frostily, but warmed up to such an extent that most of the Hartwick community went coatless!

The following comes from my friends in Facilities:

Saxton is our largest dorm, and is divided into six zones. Heating is accomplished by signals sent from the zone sensors to the boiler and pumps. When a sensor indicates a need for heat, the pump is turned on and hot water flows through the radiators into the area needing heat. There is often residual heat in the pipes and heater even if the pump is off that will continue to radiate until the pipes reach room temperature.

Some rooms may be warmer or cooler than the ideal set point, depending on their location in relation to the boiler room, the direction of prevailing winds, and absorbed heat in the bricks through direct sunlight, which in turn radiate during the night. The Saxton boiler has a limit switch which shuts itself off when the outside air temperature is above 55 degrees, but if the temperature rises quickly during the day we can have a large amount of residual heat that needs to radiate before equilibrium is accomplished.

If your room is frequently too warm please submit a work order and facilities will address it as soon as possible. It may mean that a sensor is out of calibration or that the boiler needs adjustment.

Question: My friends and I keep walking past the spot where Arnold Hall used to be, and we keep wondering—exactly what is a rain garden and how does it differ from a regular garden? In what way is it benefiting our campus community?

Answer: A rain garden is a low area that is intended to absorb the runoff that inevitably results from large amounts of rain on pavement, roofs, and other ‘impervious’ surfaces. Rain gardens are usually planted with native, water-loving vegetation that also helps to absorb water. In heavy rain, rain gardens can accommodate several inches of water that slowly filter through the dirt and rocks rather than rushing into a storm drain. In this way they can help reduce flooding while filtering out pollutants—so that smaller amounts of cleaner water eventually make their way to local creeks and streams.

In addition to being very environment-friendly (and friendly to our neighbors downhill), the Hartwick College rain garden offers a wild spot in the midst of campus that is attractive to birds and insects—and a spot lovely to look at, in my humble opinion.

Question: Hey Charlotte, my friends and I have had several experiences where there has been hair in our food in the Commons. We know the hair comes from the people working in the Commons because it is very short hair, and we are all girls and have very long hair. How come they are allowed to have long facial hair while preparing food? Even if it is within the NYS laws, it still seems gross and unsanitary.

Answer: This is, of course, something that the staff of the Commons does their best to prevent. No one likes to find hair in their food--and should any customer find a piece of hair in their food, please bring it to the immediate attention of the manager in charge so that the area can be checked for further contamination. Your assistance in helping to prevent this happening is greatly appreciated!

The Commons follows the strict guidelines set forth by the NYS Department of Health in regards to food safety and sanitation standards. Hair restraints are required for all personnel working in prep and production areas. Please know that the Commons employees are diligent in making sure that their stations are kept up to standard. While we do our best to maintain and manage these standards (with the help of sneeze guards and limiting access to work areas), we serve more than 1,300 customers in the area each day. There is always the possibility of a hair falling off the sleeve of a customer reaching for a dessert or slice of deli meat, or any of the dishes served at the Commons.