Kitchens in residence halls on the main campus will become obsolete as halls are renovated and rebuilt around campus partly because of safety issues, said the director of Residential Services.
Craig Allen, director of Residential Services, said square footage, prioritizing residence hall space, the new Student Union and safety concerns led to a decision to eliminate the kitchens as residence halls are renovated in the next few years. Safety leads his list of worries because he had to deal with a tragedy caused by a fire in a residence hall at another university.
“In my career, I unfortunately had to deal with a fire in a residence hall at Seton Hall University, where I used to work, and three students died,” Allen said.
Allen said this event led him to become more focused on fire safety in residence halls, but other reasons exist.
He said the new Student Union will provide plenty of food choices.
“We really do not want students to be cooking in residence halls,” Allen said. “We want them to be eating in the new dining hall.”
Allen said something like a baking kitchen could be a possibility in the future to supplement the removal of kitchens. This baking kitchen could contain a few ovens or a conventional oven so students could still bake, he said.
The baking kitchen would address what many different student focus groups have told Allen: the main thing students like about having a kitchen is the ability to bake items like cookies and brownies, Allen said.
Although a decision has not been made, this idea could be implemented in halls like Sherley, Colby, Milton Daniel and possibly Clark in the future, Allen said.
Freshman political science major Gustavo Feliciano said he liked the idea of having a baking kitchen, but he was disappointed about students not being able to cook.
“I wish they could find a way to keep a kitchen in the halls,” Feliciano said. “It is a lot of fun hanging out and cooking with friends, and I think it is a good way to meet people.”
Allen said next year, though the exact number is unknown, sophomore students will be able to live in the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments, where kitchens will be kept.
Allen said if the varying food provided in the new Student Union is not appeasing certain freshman students, they will have the ability to make their own food as a sophomore by moving into the on-campus apartments.
Waits and Foster halls are the most recently renovated halls on main campus and Waits Hall director Luke Morrill said safety is a big concern.
“We have had instances where burners have been left on, and we try to make sure these issues are minimized by doing rounds and checks to make sure things are OK in the hall,” Morrill said.
Ambika Sharma, a resident assistant in King Hall, said she cooked between two and three times a week when she lived in Clark last semester, and though she cannot continue to cook in King because there is no kitchen, she understands why.
“The main reason they did this is because of safety, and I think it is a good decision,” Sharma said.
Sharma used the kitchen to cook meals and bake cookies, but said she saw residents use it more for baking items instead of cooking meals.
Waits and Foster halls will be the last two halls on the main campus with kitchens because they were recently remodeled, and Allen said they are going to remain in the halls until they come up for renovation.
Kitchens will remain in the Worth Hills area of campus, including Brachman Hall, because most of the area is designated for Greek housing, and less people use them, Allen said.
Clark will be the first of the older residence halls that will no longer have a kitchen when it opens next fall.