By: Leonardo da Vinci
Three students were found frozen to death in the lower floor of Carleton Hall, the result of a long winter and an extended semester.
The students were found huddled together in the rear of the Carleton 106 lecture hall, surrounding a gutted overhead projector with a pile of charred acetate transparencies found inside.
It appears they survived for some time on the small fire they were able to start, before the cold and the fumes felled them. As the semester waned on, however, their chances of survival dropped to zero.
“Before the strike, they might have had a chance of holding on until early April,” coroner Marcus Briggs explained. “But with the extension of the school year — these poor bastards never stood a chance.”
According to Environment Canada, temperatures of -28 to -39 degrees Celsius carry the risk of frostbite on exposed skin within 10 to 30 minutes and hypothermia results after long periods without adequate clothing or shelter from wind and cold.
Experts are now speculating on what kind of curriculum could have led these students to spend long hours in such a frigid environment, with only pub crawl T-shirts and baseball caps for protection.
“Had they been science or engineering students, their exposure to the conditions in Carleton would have been limited — typically we only see mild freezing of the extremities after a 40-minute lecture,” Briggs said.
“But from the severe frostbite on these individuals — entire fingers and toes missing — we can only accept that they were arts students.”
Sally Cleavage, associate vice-president academic, said the deaths were an unfortunate side-effect of budget cuts.
“We’ve had to cut $1.2 million from the academic budget alone for the upcoming year,” she explained.
While Cleavage said that the UNB administration was regretful of the incident, according to her there simply aren’t any funds available for luxuries such as centralized heating.
“And of course that money’s been earmarked for the construction of the new Richard J. Currie Memorial Ziggurat — Dr. Currie plans to expire soon and he wants his personal mausoleum/ kinesiology facility ready by the next academic year.”
As UNB’s aging facilities are facing $200 million of deferred maintenance, with no plans to renovate them anytime soon, students are aware that they must watch out for their own safety in the meantime.
“Bring some of those hand-warmer packets — stuff them in your mitts — and you should have enough feeling in your hands to still take notes,” said student Brian Connors.
“I usually bring some for the other folks in the lecture — I’ve lost too many friends to the elements this semester.”