The Residence Hall Association added pots and pans to community kitchens two years ago, but students said the supplies are too dirty to use.
The RHA, Campus Living and Residential Education team and dining officials replaced the cooking supplies in each residence hall’s community kitchen at the beginning of the semester after hearing student feedback that the old supplies were broken, RHA President Trinity Diaz said. In interviews with more than 20 students, 15 said they use the pots, pans and utensils, but nine said the cooking supplies are not clean enough.
Diaz said she has received positive student feedback about the new pots and pans, which are nonstick and oven safe.
“They also have given us feedback on what items they would like to see added to community kitchens so that they can cook even more,” Diaz said in an email. “We hope to use this feedback to inform future years of the program to try and make the pots and pans program as successful as possible.”
She said some of the cooking classes the RHA hosts, which were expanded to every freshman residence hall last month, were cut short because the community kitchens lacked clean supplies for the class instructors to use.
“There were a few items that we couldn’t use, but that was due to the communities not properly cleaning them,” Diaz said. “While RHA, dining and CLRE provide the pots and pans, we rely on community members to clean and respect the provided supplies.”
Students who live in residence halls with community kitchens said housing officials should implement policies in each hall that would ensure students clean up after themselves.
Jessica Carr, a first-floor Potomac House resident, said she often sees unwashed supplies piled in the hall’s kitchen sink and expired food in the hall’s community refrigerator. She said she still uses and cleans the supplies before leaving the kitchen.
Carr added that resident advisers should talk individually with students who frequently leave the kitchen dirty to encourage residents to keep the space clean.
“Everyone should clean up after themselves,” she said. “That should be a requirement to share. I don’t know how RAs would find out who’s doing it, but I guess if they got reports about certain people, then they should be talked to.”
Sua Cho, a fifth-floor Thurston Hall resident, said the first-generation cohort she is a part of was provided with its own pots and pans, but she still avoids using the kitchen because residents leave dirty dishes in the sink and on the counters.
“There could be someone there to clean,” she said. “There should be a policy that if you use it, you should clean it.”
To encourage residents to keep the community’s kitchen clean, RAs in Potomac House are holding a Community Kitchen Initiative event Nov. 9 to encourage residents to clean up their kitchen messes, according to an email residence director Hannah Wasco sent to residents last week.
“During this time, the RAs will be working with residents to clean the kitchen and to also establish standards to keep it clean and enjoyable for everyone,” Wasco said in her email.
Zoubida Bicane, a ninth-floor Thurston resident, said she has had to borrow her floormates’ pots and pans because the items in the community kitchen are usually dirty.
“I’ve used the community kitchen to bake with my roommates, but the sink is super dirty and overflows with water and food particles,” Bicane said.
Seventh-floor Madison Hall resident Sofia Schuchner said her residence hall’s kitchen lacks several key supplies, like oven pans and spatulas, but she still uses the kitchen as much as possible because she enjoys cooking.
“A lot of them are old, melted and broken,” Schuchner said. “For the most part, I wash them. At the beginning of the year, they gave us a box of new ones, so I try to use those, but people just leave things unwashed.”
Seventh-floor Madison resident Sidney Grimsley said she wishes officials would replace the supplies or encourage students to take care of the community space.
“I’m pretty sure every time I eat food, it’s contaminated,” Grimsley said. “Sometimes I clean them if they’re dirty, and I don’t feel like they’re clean but I still use them.”