Satire | Campus Scout | Keep campus warm by opening steam pipes


Sydney Laput

A steam tunnel vent located outside of PAR. The Campus Scout argues that these vents should be open in keeping the campus more warm.

By Campus Scout

A chilling sensation creeps across campus. Unlike winters before, this winter particularly feels colder than usual. With days nearing the negatives, students are inclined to keep masks on while walking between classes to fight frostbite. Similarly, the wind is no help as it pushes colder air into Champaign-Urbana.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. C-U doesn’t have to suffer another winter walking through freezing temperatures. This winter can and must be different. Therefore, it’s time the University unleashes the steam pipes/tunnels and warm the community.

For those unfamiliar, across campus vents from the underground steam tunnels decorate sidewalks with their splendid brutalist design. Likewise, for those fortunate enough to stand beside one in winter, the outflowing warmth from these pipes is the remedy to a cold day. Scout particularly recommends the vent on the southwest corner of Gregory and Fourth streets next to Lundgren Hall.

Still, the tunnels today have a warmth radius of a couple of feet or so — not nearly enough to warm one’s walk to class. Consequently, if these tunnels were released to their full potential — by opening the steam pipes — campus could maintain a comfortable temperature and ward winter off.

In their current states, the pipes stem from the Abbott Power Plant which burns coal, natural gas and water to generate steam. According to the University’s Facilities and Services’ site, “More than 250 campus buildings use the steam produced at Abbott for their heating.” Although this is a large number of buildings, this doesn’t account for the infinite outdoor space currently not heated.

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Even if there were a compromise and the pipes were loosened enough to warm a block or so, this increased heat supply would dramatically change campus. Gone would be the bone-chilling walks. Gone would be overcrowded buses from those afraid to face the cold. Now, humanity can take the thermostat from Mother Nature.

Despite no response from any University sources, Scout is confident this plan can work. If not unleashing the pipes and opening the vents, then perhaps open the Abbott smokestack?

Either way, campus buildings unfairly enjoy all the heat generated on campus. No more. The community must request the University to, one, open the pipes and warm campus, and two, redesign the Abbott smokestack to heat campus, not the atmosphere.

The process will be tumultuous, but no scientific endeavor is easy. President John F. Kennedy said it best when pushing the United States to the Moon.

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

We choose to open the campus steam pipes, not because it’s easy, but because it’ll keep us warm this winter. We choose to warm the community — and not the atmosphere — not because it eventually will save the Earth, but because it’s the best use of our energy.

*Campus Scout writes opinion-based, satirical stories and uses fictional sourcing.*

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