Second-year law student and class representative Daniel
Doughty holds a petition calling for action over hot and
stuffy conditions in a University of Otago lecture theatre.
Photo by Craig Baxter.
A group of hot and bothered University of Otago law
students is concerned over rising temperatures in a lecture
theatre, saying their ability to learn is being affected.
Concern about overheating in Archway 4 lecture theatre
prompted 185 second-year law students to sign a petition
calling for improvements in the theatre, student magazine
Critic reported this week.
Otago University told the Otago Daily Times yesterday
it took the concern seriously and was looking for a temporary
fix for the lecture block's heating, ventilation, and air
Law lecturer Prof Andrew Geddis was glad the university was
taking the situation seriously and hoped a solution would be
''The students are paying several thousand dollars to take
[law] and frankly they are being asked to learn in conditions
that are suboptimal,'' Prof Geddis said.
The ''unbearably hot'' conditions left people fanning their
faces or falling asleep.
''You are trying to teach the intricacies of constitutional
law to them under these circumstances and it just doesn't
''The fact that I know students are falling asleep in the
back rows of my lectures - now I may not be the world's
greatest teacher, but I'm not that bad.''
The issue was at its worst in the afternoon at the back of
the theatre and was not isolated to hot days.
''On the warm sunny days, the sun heats the place too much
and then when the polar blast came through they turned the
heating on and that had the same effect.''
Class representative Daniel Doughty (20) said the situation
was definitely affecting students' ability to learn.
The issue was particularly bad for second-year law students
because all their lectures were held in Archway 4, Mr Doughty
He was pleased with the university's response to the
petition, which showed students could influence university
Otago University property services director Barry MacKay
confirmed it received the student petition last Friday and
was treating the issue with ''due seriousness''.
The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system in the
Archway building was due to be replaced by the start of next
year, but in the meantime property services was ''moving
quickly'' to find ways of improving the old system.
''The key issue may be a need to improve airflow, especially
in high humidity conditions, which cause a greater sensation
of heat to be felt.''
As it was policy not to intrude on lectures in progress,
property services was reliant on lecturers to report any
issues as they occurred and it could find no record of such
Prof Geddis said all teachers of afternoon law lectures in
the theatre wrote to property services at the start of the
semester to point out the problem and informal complaints had
been raised previously.
''I find it hard to believe that property services could be
completely unaware of what it has been like.''