Windows and Tenements

As a UCSB alum and Santa Barbara resident, I was shocked to hear that UCSB was moving forward with a 4,500 person, windowless dorm for future students to live in. At first, I was frustrated that it was within the UC’s power to construct a building without windows. Then I got curious about why windows were mandated in homes in the first place.

Windows actually became mandated because of infectious disease. In the late 1800s, tuberculosis, a viral respiratory epidemic, and cholera were spreading rampantly through the dense, windowless tenements of New York City. Windows ultimately became mandated in the The New York Tenement Act of 1901 to improve ventilation and slow the spread of disease.

Today, during a pandemic, Munger Hall is a windowless dorm being built despite infectious disease. The proposal would put many people living in close quarters where 94 percent of rooms have no windows. It could be a bad design choice to create a windowless building during a pandemic.

The plan is also designed to encourage students to socialize in close-knit environments, something that could also be a bad design choice if a virus outbreak happens.

My question is: What will happen if someone in Munger Hall gets sick?

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