Air conditioning, elevator among changes for Emerson

Biola will be making a few changes to the new Emerson office buildings.


Due to a deficiency in offices on campus, Emerson Hall will be transformed from a residence hall to offices, primarily for faculty. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES

Anne Marie Larson, Writer

Due to a deficiency in offices on campus, Emerson Hall will be transformed from a residence hall to offices, primarily for faculty. Some of these changes include air conditioning and an elevator. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Although Emerson Hall is going to be converted into an office building after the 2014-2015 academic year, Biola will make as few changes as possible.

If too much is altered in the dorm best known for its lack of both air conditioning and female residents, Biola will encounter issues with building codes. In fact, depending on housing needs, it could revert back to a residence hall sometime in the future, said Greg Balsano, vice president of university services.

The change in use of the building triggers the necessity of an elevator, which would bring Emerson up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Another big change is adding air conditioning, a move that elicits mixed emotions among Emerson residents.

“This is my third year in Emerson, and I’ve gotten used to the no air conditioning. I embrace it as part of the culture and have become used to sweating,” said Emerson resident adviser Joshua Wilson, a junior kinesiology major.


While some residents are focused on maintaining the sweaty tradition, others are asking, why now?

“It feels like they’re valuing their employees over students, which makes sense from an employment standpoint. We have been put on the back burner for a very long time, and now they are suddenly upgrading the building,” said Rick Anderson, junior business management and biblical studies major.

Greg Balsano, vice president of university services, gave three explanations for the decision to add air conditioning only after Emerson’s conversion to offices. Students are not in their dorm all the time, including the hottest parts of the day. Furthermore, Biola only permits employees to remove so much clothing. They are held to a higher dress standard than students.

“When students are in the privacy of their own room, they can be very casual. The office people have to stay fully clothed, so they can’t compensate by working in their underwear or something like that, for example,” Balsano said.


Additionally, air conditioning costs more for individual dorm rooms than offices. Offices have one thermostat and a bank of several offices that are on the same thermostat. The cost difference is still expensive, but it was an extra $400,000 to do it in every room, according to Balsano.

“It’s kind of silly since the people paying to go here didn’t get air conditioning, but the people who are getting paid get air conditioning,” said Luke Mountain, Emerson senator-elect and biblical studies major.

Mountain has six fans in his room.

“I knew it would look bad … but there are some differences there we couldn’t get around,” Balsano said.

Brian Phillips, senior director of facilities management, said they will initially leave the showers in the bathrooms, though they will remain unused. More minor changes like repainting and new carpet are also possible. Who the occupants are will drive the changes they will make, according to Phillips. Biola is seeking to keep expenses down as much as much as possible.

“Just adding air conditioning and an elevator is a significant cost. But we want it to be a place that is going to be functional for whoever will occupy it and allow them to do their work,” Phillips said.

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