Students Set To Scream

Sarah M.J. Welch

Bobby DeAngelis tries to keep warm while working at Nini’s Corner newsstand. “It helps,” he said of his two heaters and layers of clothing.

About a dozen intrepid exhibitionists said yesterday that the blast of Arctic air enveloping the region will not stop them from baring all at midnight tonight for the annual pre-exam run around Harvard Yard known as “Primal Scream.”

Mather resident John Paul M. Fox ’04 said he and his blockmates have had a “perfect streak” of running every Primal Scream since they were first-years and don’t intend to break it tonight.

Fox said he will probably wear a hat and gloves in addition to his traditional sunglasses.

“Once you get the adrenaline going, you don’t really feel the cold,” Fox said.

Even though today is forecast to be slightly warmer than yesterday, meteorologists are predicting that today’s cold will smash a record low set in 1920. As of last night, about 300 schools across Massachusetts had cancelled classes, rather than have children risk frostbite.

At midnight tonight, meterologists predict the mercury will level off at 10 degrees—and with wind chill, it should feel like a frosty -8. Meteorologists warn that exposed skin could develop frostbite in as little as 30 minutes under such extreme wind chills.

Dr. John Vanderpool, medical director

of After-Hours Urgent Care at University Health Services (UHS), warned students against going through with the run.

“I really can’t encourage students to go through with this under any circumstances,” Vanderpool said.

Vanderpool urged runners to abstain from drug and alcohol use, emphasizing that both have the potential to numb students’ ability to feel frostbite’s warning signs, which include tingling limbs and dizziness.

“Friends might not be able to distinguish your odd behavior from that of a drunken person,” Vanderpool said.

Some students said they’d had second thoughts about the midnight streak after hearing the frostbite warnings, but most said they plan to run anyway.

Mike Tucci ’06 said he passed on the run last year and was looking forward to taking the plunge this year.

“I’m 75 percent sure that I’ll run this year,” Tucci said while trying to warm his trembling hands in the fierce wind.

He added that he’s more focused on the doom inherent in looming test dates than on that whipping through the frosty air.

“I can handle the cold,” he said. “It’s finals that I’m worried about.”

After the recent rash of gropings on Harvard’s campus—including one in the Yard—some students expressed concern that the spectacle might draw further incidents.

Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesperson, Steven G. Catalano, wouldn’t comment on how many officers will patrol the area.

“Our hopes are that the sub-zero temperature will keep students from taking part in this tradition,” Catalano said.

In the Houses

The recent dip in the weather has prompted dozens of students to post complaints over open e-mail lists about insufficient heating in the Houses.

The Mather House open e-mail list, in particular, has experienced an avalanche of complaints from students who say they’re so cold they wear coats and mittens while studying in their rooms–and even while eating at the dining hall.

“I saw many people eating with their coats on,” said Julio E. Guzman ’05, a Mather resident who for the past few days has noticed a thin coat of ice spreading across his window. “It’s not cold in my room anymore, but in the communal areas it’s still chilly.”

Mather House superintendent Miguel Castillos said that he was initially unaware of the problem because students posting complaints on the open e-mail list did not call his office with reports.

Castillos said that he attributes most of the heating issues in Mather to the single-pane glass windows, a feature that Mather shares with Leverett Towers.

Leverett House superintendent Paul J. Hegarty agreed that the sprawling windows tend to allow cold air in, and advised students to keep curtains shut.

According to Hegarty, the University has a policy which dictates that housing must be kept at a room temperature of 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees at night.

House superintendents are first in command when it comes to addressing heating problems, and they say that the source of complaints can often be remedied at an individual level–rarely, they say, does the heating conflict arise from a system-wide failure.

Improperly closed windows, blocked radiators and incorrect use of the heater dials are common culprits, Hegarty said.

“If it does appear to be a mechanical problem,” Hegarty said, adding that he only received three calls yesterday, “we call the Control Center.”

The Control Center is the part of University Operations Services in charge of responding to room emergencies 24 hours a day.

Director of Building Maintenance and Operations Jay M. Phillips estimated yesterday that Harvard spends close to a million a dollars a month on heating operations.

Phillips said that providing double-pane windows for Mather residents is on their agenda.

Echoing many students’ sentiments, Phillips said that the current extreme temperatures have prompted a larger number of problems than ordinary, even for this time of year.

“This is a really tough time,” Phillips said.

—Staff writer Jackeline Montalvo can be reached at