Air pipes

Satire | Campus Explorer | Keep the campus warm by opening the steam pipes

Sidney Laput

A steam tunnel vent located outside the PAR. The Campus Scout argues that these vents should be open to keep the campus warmer.

A feeling of coldness grips the campus. Unlike previous winters, this winter is notably colder than usual. With days approaching negatives, students are inclined to keep masks on when walking between classes to combat frostbite. Likewise, the wind is of no help as it pushes colder air into Champaign-Urbana.

However, this need not be the case. CU doesn’t have to endure another winter marching through freezing temperatures. This winter can and should be different. Therefore, it is time for the University to release the steamlines/tunnels and warm up the community.

For those unfamiliar, the campus vents of underground steam tunnels decorate the sidewalks with their splendid brutalist design. Likewise, for those lucky enough to stand next to them in the winter, the heat escaping from these pipes is the cure for a cold day. Scout particularly recommends the vent located on the southwest corner of Gregory and Fourth streets, next to Lundgren Hall.

Yet the tunnels today have a heat radius of about a few feet – not enough to warm the walk to class. Therefore, if these tunnels were unleashed to their full potential – by opening up the steam pipes – the campus could maintain a comfortable temperature and ward off winter.

In their current state, the pipes rod of the Abbott Power Station which burns coal, natural gas and water to produce steam. According to the University’s facilities and services site, “More than 250 buildings on campus use steam produced at Abbott for their heating.” Although this is a large number of buildings, this does not take into account the infinite outdoor space currently unheated.

Even if there was a trade-off and the pipes were loosened enough to warm about a block, this increased heat input would dramatically change the campus. No more icy walks. No more crowded buses of those who are afraid to face the cold. Now humanity can take Mother Nature’s thermostat.

Despite the lack of response from any academic source, Scout is confident that this plan can work. If not freeing the pipes and opening the vents, then maybe opening the Abbott chimney?

Either way, campus buildings unfairly benefit from all the heat generated on campus. No more. The community must ask the University, first, to open the pipes and heat the campus, and second, to redesign the Abbott Chimney to heat the campus, not the atmosphere.

The process will be tumultuous, but no scientific undertaking is easy. President John F. Kennedy noted it is better to push the United States towards the Moon.

“We choose to go to the Moon…and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are difficult, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and Our skills.”

We chose to open the campus steam lines, not because it’s easy, but because it will keep us warm this winter. We choose to warm the community – not the atmosphere – not because it will ultimately save the Earth, but because it’s the best use of our energy.

*Campus Scout writes satirical stories based on opinions and uses fictional sources.*

Send your tips to:

[email protected]