Who should clean the kitchen in Alcuin?
“Clearly the students haven’t been keeping up with it, since every time [my friend and I] go in, the same pans are dirty,” Kelly Flaherty, integrated science and allied health major, said.
This question has been discussed in two of SGA’s weekly meetings starting a month ago, but not in the latest meeting.
Justin Hoffman, executive board president of SGA, told The Review that the discussion was to be put on hold until after spring break.
“We are making progress,” Hoffman said, “but nothing is definitive at this moment.”
The following quotes and information are from the SGA meetings’ minutes, which are available online at SGA’s page on the Saint Vincent Portal.
The discussion began in the Feb. 11 SGA meeting when Hoffman said that the Alcuin kitchen gets dirty and is not cleaned often, asking if a cleaning schedule could be implemented.
Scott Becker, a Gerard Hall representative, replied that SGA should be in charge of cleaning since it was their capital project. He added that students need to clean up after they are done using the kitchen.
Hoffman replied, “[I] feel like it is FMO’s responsibility because it is now a facility on campus.”
The discussion continued a week later.
In this next meeting, Megan Miller, the FMO student representative, reported FMO’s response. She said that the kitchen “is not to be cleaned by FMO” and that “students are to clean up after themselves.”
Miller explained that if FMO is wanted to clean the Alcuin kitchen, a meeting should take place between Vicky Booth, head of facility housekeeping for FMO, Bob Baum, dean of students and head of student affairs, and an SGA member to set up a rotation cycle.
After Miller spoke, seventeen people exchanged ideas and information on the topic. Among the proposals was the possibility of a meeting with FMO and Baum; whether it is SGA’s, FMO’s, or students’ responsibility to keep the kitchen clean; and how those who use the kitchen could be held accountable for their messes.
Mitchell Farrell, former executive board treasurer of SGA, said that FMO should do regular upkeep on the kitchen, but that cleaning up after students is neither FMO’s nor SGA’s job.
Miller said that the stove was broken over the summer due to students mistreating it and it had to be replaced. She said that an ID scanner outside the kitchen could prevent something like that from happening again.
Fr. Killian Loch O.S.B., director of campus ministry, said that when he was an advisor for SGA, the stove was a capital project from the group. He said that SGA was supposed to be responsible to keep the stove clean, but people with offices in Alcuin ended up cleaning it since it was so dirty.
“That responsibility faded,” Killian said.
The Alcuin kitchen was not mentioned in the following week’s meeting, which was the last one before spring break.
Hoffman told The Review that “all is still in the air.” He also said that SGA, FMO and Residence Life are the organizations involved in the discussion.
The Review reached out to Booth and Miller to comment. Neither gave any information about the progress on the discussion of the Alcuin kitchen.
Miller said that she would be happy to comment after the problem is sorted out and she has been updated.
Booth told The Review that students using the kitchen are responsible to clean up after themselves, as Miller said in the Feb. 18 meeting. Booth did not comment further, saying she needed to first meet with SGA and student affairs.
Flaherty and Alex Kline, assistant football coach, have both used the kitchen in Alcuin within the past year, and provided their thoughts about it.
Flaherty and Kline both said that it should be students’ responsibility to clean up after themselves, and both said that SGA and FMO should not be responsible for doing this.
“It’s just out of respect for SGA since they are the ones providing us with these utilities,” Flaherty said.
However, both said that the kitchen should be regularly monitored by an authority.
Flaherty said that SGA should be doing this weekly, although it seems like they never do.
“It does have their name on it saying they sponsored it so they’re underlying on the responsibility,” Flaherty said.
Kline said that the best way to have more accountability would be to have kitchens in the residence buildings, like Rooney and Saint Benedict Halls, where there are more authoritative figures and the location is less secluded.
“I think you could get a lot more use out of it then, because a lot of people might not even be sure that [the Alcuin kitchen] exists,” Kline said.
Both Flaherty and Kline noted that the kitchen is constantly messy.
Flaherty mentioned that the refrigerator is “usually full of expired food” and “smells awful,” that the pans have burnt food on them which leave a “foul smell” and that items are missing from the drawers.
She also mentioned that she and her friend tried to clean the pans, but that they were “so bad that there is no hope for them.”
Both Flaherty and Kline said they brought their own pans to cook with when they each used the kitchen.
Kline mentioned that the refrigerator sometimes smelled like old food, that dishes piled up in the refrigerator and sink, and that the stove would be covered with food.
"Overtime, [the stove] would become even more disgusting, whether it’s sauce on the side or an actual piece of food,” he said.
Kline mentioned that the kitchen does not seem to be used often. Because students might not think that other people use the facility, he explained, they might figure it’s okay to leave messes.
He thinks SGA, particularly the members he knows from the football team, could improve the situation with the Alcuin kitchen.
“I know if we put a few ideas in their head, that could be something they run with,” he said.
Photos: Matthew Wojtechko