Future Terriers Fur Ruffled Over Lack of AC in Dormitories

A litter of sweltering future terriers tumbles eagerly into a small courtyard just off Commonwealth Ave., pushing out of the thick heat of direct sun and into the slightly cooler shadows formed by the towering academic buildings of Boston University. Across from a blue-domed observatory, its marble walls and stained glass windows obscured by a luxurious curtain of climbing ivy, the courtyard is already occupied by groups of students, faculty and assorted Bostonians, all hiding in the shade, too timid to brave the scorching sun. This heatwave (so far, 6 days in a row of 90-plus temperatures) may not be a record-breaker (yet), but it’s so oppressive that you can feel the whole city moving slower, and you can see the toll it’s taking in the wilted postures of those forced to endure it without air conditioning.

Leaves from the drooping branches of some scrawny city trees, poking out of squares of dirt cut from the sidewalk, give an impression of kindness by creating delicate dappled patterns on the bricks, but it’s a tease: one step out of the shade and the brutal sun is unrelenting. Everything in this city seems to absorb the heat and reflect it back — doubling its intensity. It’s impossible to sit on the scorching concrete benches scattered about, though there is one group, settled on a patch of grass managing to study. From the nearby road comes the cacophony of gear-shifting trucks, screeching train cars, and hissing busses in addition to clanging construction and even chirping birds. To me, all that noise sounds like a cry for relief from the torrid heat.

Too soon, the “litter of future terriers” (a tour group of prospective students) moves reluctantly out of their patch of shade. The tour guide has just given them a long-winded speech about Boston University’s undergraduate science programs while nearby colorful banners hang from lampposts, one in particular describes a student’s attempt to better understand and combat global warming in Antarctica. Efforts that would probably be better spent in Boston right now. As they move reluctantly back into the heat and direct sunlight, some begin to fan themselves in a futile attempt to beat back the heat. Someone ask about the dormitory towering over us. And one can’t help but wonder if those future terriers were warned of the sweltering conditions inside, as Warren Towers, a main residence is not air conditioned.