Air conditioning problems continue to plague UH Manoa dormitory

University of Hawaii at Manoa students who live at Frear Hall say they pay more because it’s the only dormitory on campus with air conditioning.

But many haven’t gotten what they paid for in months, some dating back to December 2015.

When we first pressed the university about the issue, we were told it would take two weeks to fix the problem. Since then, only 16 rooms were fixed, and 44 are still without air conditioning.

“Unfortunately, as we try to figure out exactly what’s wrong with these units, we got the first set online, but as we went through the procurement process, we suffered a number of setbacks,” said spokesman Dan Meisenzahl. “The first time we got the units fixed, they were misdiagnosed.”

Now, UH says it could take one to two months to get the air conditioners running again.

As a temporary fix, Meisenzahl says portable air conditioning units will be distributed to affected students within the next two weeks.

We broke the news to senior Codee Martin, who hasn’t had air conditioning in his Frear Hall dorm since September. He rolled his eyes and laughed.

“Well, there’s not much we can do. It’s not exactly what we’re paying for,” he said. “I’m two steps away from calling a contractor myself and having them come in and just bill the school for it.”

Junior Kelli Lyman fears the portable air conditioning unit might be a challenge.

“Those are really huge. The room is relatively small. To have all of that in one jammed area (may be a problem),” said Lyman.

Were students notified about the recent AC issues?

“My understanding is they have been notified,” said Meisenzahl. “There might be some confusion though, because some of the ACs went back online.”

But Lyman, who we last spoke with two weeks ago, disagrees.

“I’m a little disappointed that the spokesperson said it would be fixed within two weeks,” she said. “Now they’re saying it could take another month (or two). I would like for them to update us with the stance and the status if some rooms got fixed and they were able to procure a contractor to fix the issue. If they aren’t able to fix other AC units, they should also let us know.”

Lyman says the issue has been frustrating.

“I’m just like left in the dark. I don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “This is my room. This is my home. It’s frustrating to me to not know what’s going on and not have the AC working properly.”

Martin added, “They said it’s just a problem they’ve been having for awhile. We’ve been waiting for a contractor to come in for over a month now. They’re just nonchalant about it.”

“What would you say to the students who are beyond frustrated with this whole process?” KHON2 asked UH.

“All we can do is apologize,” replied Meisenzahl. “They are going to be rebated some money back though. I know that’s kind of a symbolic thing for students because they had to suffer through the heat. I don’t know what more we can say, but we’re sorry, and we’re working on it. I can’t tell you enough how dedicated our student housing staff is.”

The university initially said students would receive a rebate of $5 per each affected day.

Martin says he doesn’t feel he’s getting his money’s worth as a Frear Hall resident.

“I’m hoping it’s more than $5. I can probably calculate a bigger amount than that,” he said.

Meisenzahl said, “That’s going to be assessed. We’re taking a look at how we’re doing things.”

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