Shared Kitchens Are Important — But Keeping Them Clean Is, Too

At Luther College, many students recognize the importance of cooking, especially its importance in sharing their own cultures, helping them deal with homesickness, escaping the routine cafeteria food, managing stress, satisfying the smallest cravings  or simply gathering with friends over a warm meal. For those who do know how to cook, it maintains an important place in our everyday lives. Most of the on-campus residences are equipped with suitable kitchens for the needs of all the students, saving them from having to purchase electric stoves and other equipment for cooking. Though small in comparison to other aspects of life here, it is an opportunity that many students should cherish.

However, not many would say that cooking on campus is as attractive as I make it seem, due to the tidiness of these kitchens. This is bound to happen in a setting where more than 50 students are using a single kitchen, where no one can be held accountable for the cleanliness of the kitchen. This has diminished the allure of cooking in residence halls, because no one wants to cook in an untidy kitchen. As a result, some students lose a crucial mechanism of forming connections and sharing their culture with other people. Students should place more effort into making sure that all members of the community are comfortable and catered to, so that these spaces are more inclusive and compassionate for all in the campus community.

Cooking on campus can provide many valuable mental health benefits to students, yet not many are willing to use shared kitchen spaces due to the often untidy and uncomfortable state of these shared spaces. This can make it difficult for students to access the tools and resources necessary for cooking, preventing them from enjoying its calming, comforting and enriching effects. Mental health is too often overlooked in college, and having access to cooking in a safe, tidy environment can offer students a chance to relieve stress and boost their wellbeing. It is therefore essential that all members of the community endeavour to make shared spaces like these more inviting for everyone by making an effort to carry out the required responsibilities and to clean up afterwards. In doing so, students can be supported in finding respite from the hectic lifestyle of college and also open the door to form new connections and celebrate cultures.