The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Keepin it Classy: Students Lack Respect for Shared Utilities

4 min read


I started living in Mason Hall for my third year here at the University of Mary Washington, and, while it’s not perfect, the refurbished dorm is rather nice. The rooms are lit completely and lots of outlets are available. The bathrooms are big, the hallways are bright and the many study rooms are pretty, have plenty of chairs and couches and are large and comfortable.

One thing I really liked when I went exploring on move-in day was the kitchen on the third floor. It was rather large and simple, with lots of room for multiple people. Some of its amenities included a big fridge, a new microwave, a stove, two ovens and a large garbage bin. It was clean and attractive, unlike the last kitchen I had in Willard, which contained an oven that was shut down early in the first semester because, being so old, it was dangerous for students to use.

However, on the first Friday of class, I went to the kitchen to reheat some leftovers for dinner, and discovered that the place looked completely different.

One stove was filthy. The counter had trash and dirt all over it, despite being two steps away form the open, almost empty trash bin.

The microwave unleashed a blast of hot air in my face when I opened the door. It had dried sauce on its walls and pieces of popcorn-bag paper stuck to the glass plate. In attempting to clean the microwave, I nearly burned my fingers peeling off the paper. It was the first week of class, and this was the state of the newly revamped kitchen.

I wish I were not so used to students misusing the dorm and ruining things they share with others.

In the first week of my freshman year, we had one of those unscheduled fire drills that I’m sure many students here are familiar with. There’s the classic case of a student microwaving Easy Mac or a Ramen Noodles without water, and then walking away and forgetting about it.

We had at least five more unscheduled fire drills throughout the year. About halfway through the first semester, the 4th floor kitchen was locked because students did not throw trash away, left dirty dishes in the sink for days and were slowly destroying the microwave.

I’m also just going to throw in the word “Russel,” and if you’re anything beyond a freshman, you should know what I mean.

In my second year, our hall’s microwave became extremely filthy. It was even replaced, and the RAs put up a sign on the wall behind it that included basic instructions on how to use the microwave and a request that residents respect it since the whole floor had to share it.

The kitchen also became filthier as the semester advanced. One student cooked a pasta dish in a metal pan on the stove early in the first semester and never cleaned the pan. After some time of sitting in the sink, it was moved to the top of the fridge so that it was out of the way. When the second semester started, an RA put the pan, still unclean, in a plastic bag beneath the sink next to the paper towels. It was there a week before school ended, and it might still be there for all I know.

I suppose that there are some people out there who miss the RA announcements, floor meetings, emails and written notices that explain how you, the students, are responsible for cleaning your own room, bathroom and kitchen.

It’s one thing to know understand these problems and another to confront the fact that a significant portion of this college campus does not understand simple things, like how to use a microwave or trash can.

UMW has a cleaning staff that is responsible for keeping the campus clean. They fix the lawns, vacuum and wash the Nest, Seacobeck, The Underground and the teaching and administration buildings.

They are not responsible for specific student areas like the kitchens, dorm rooms and suite bathrooms. They are not responsible for picking up trash on the ground you couldn’t be bothered to pick up yourself, cleaning your dirty dishes or wiping kitchen counters after you use them.

Your peers are not responsible for cleaning up your messes, either.

We’re in college now. I hate to break it to you, but your parents aren’t here to pick up after you, and you are sharing space with a lot of other people.

So pick up your trash, clean your dishes and if you’re microwaving something, read the instructions. It’s not difficult, and you’re still going to be doing it all after you graduate, anyway.