Houston McLaury – Opinions Columnist
In the late hours of the night during the 2023 J-Term, most students would be found in their rooms working hard on their assignments. Some might try to relax with a TV show, others may hang out with friends. In Sohre, it was quite different this year. Almost weekly you could find the residents of Sohre on the other side of Jefferson Street as the fire alarm in the building blared out its warning.
This almost-weekly occurrence was a form of distress for many students; some people only went out in their PJs, others with hair wet from showers. Regardless, all had to stand in the cold of January and wait for the okay to go back to the warmth and safety of their rooms. More often than not, residents found the smell of burnt food wafting through the air as some made the long journey back to fourth-floor rooms. The smell was the worst part of the experience. The odor often lingered for a few hours before dissipating and would be accompanied by a wonderfully horrible headache for the duration of its stay.
By the third time the fire alarm went off, people were frustrated. Some joked about the possibility of closing the kitchen, locking up the pots and pans used for cooking and only allowing them to be unlocked at certain times. And while, yes, I understand the frustration over the frequent alarms, I don’t think this would have been a reasonable solution simply because of the punishment it gives to the rest of the students in Sohre hall.
If the pots and pans and other utensils used to cook are locked away from students, I believe that it would harm the overall morale of the students who like to use the kitchens. Cooking yourself your own meal is a comfort, a way of self-care, a good use of time from your day to make a meal that will fill you up and warm you to the soul. Taking away the tools to cook, or even just confining usage to a certain time frame, restricts this basic human comfort many students take advantage of during stressful college nights. The alarms, while a brief inconvenience during the time, were a temporary issue that at the start of the spring semester, seem to have faded away.
So, what other options could there be to have stopped this Sohre cooking catastrophe, other than locking up the pots and pans at certain hours? One potential solution would have been to install a camera inside the kitchen and identify whoever was setting off the alarm. This would lead to a discussion with CFs about safety while cooking for those who triggered the alarm. My hope for this is that there would not be any further incidents of fire alarms going off, and that with the CF’s discussion with the students that set the alarm off would be enough of a warning to prevent any more catastrophes in the kitchen.
While the constant alarms over J-Term were indeed an inconvenience, I don’t believe that locking the cooking equipment away would truly solve the issue. Cooking feeds the soul and allows us to take a moment out of our day to make something for ourselves, to treat ourselves. Cooking must not be restricted for the sake of the students’ morale.