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College Dorm Cooking Facilities

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I was surprised to read in one recent thread that some college students have no access to any cooking (and cleaning) facilities in their dorms. Is this really common?? If so, I'm a little bit appalled... I didn't learn how to cook until college, really, and I know that many of us learn how to cook / cook seriously during this time. It would be unfortunate if many students did not have this opportunity.

When I went to school (at the turn of the century ;), all dorms had communal kitchens for us to use, albeit pretty disgusting ones -- and my friends and i made frequent use of them, though in truth, the cafeteria food wasn't half bad. My sister and my brother, who went to very different institutions, also had communal kitchens.

Just curious what other Chowhounds' experiences were -- yours and/or your children's -- if you care to share. It would be interesting to know the approximate decade of the experience, whether the dorm / school was co-ed, and whether the majority of students lived on or off campus.

My college was co-ed and all the dorms were, too. Almost all students lived in campus housing.

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  1. I went to college in the 80s at a school where almost all students lived on-campus. The dorms were co-ed, although the school was historically all-male. There were no student cooking facilities.

    One issue may be the age of the buildings. I would assume that more modern dormitories will be more likely to have kitchens. The first dorm I lived in was built in 1812, the other in 1930.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alanbarnes

      I went to college in the early 80's. The only access to "cooking" facilities was a friend on the floor who had a (illegal, according to the rules) hotplate that he could cook spaghetti. Of course, I wasn't paying any attention after the application of numerous "daquiri's" (at that point, straight rum).

    2. Well, when I was up at the University of Kansas, 25 or so years ago, my first year in a scholarship hall, the residents actually cooked the meals as part of their scholarship, and during off-hours we could use the kitchen as long as we cleaned up afterwards, so I cooked a couple romantic meals for my girlfriend.
      We could even buy eggs for a nickle and cheese for a nickle if we wanted to make an omelet or scrambled eggs. CHEAP EATS!
      The dorm I moved into the second year (after my scholarship wasn't renewed due to my social activities) had a couple equipped kitchens that could be "checked out" at the desk and used to prepare meals. You were expected to leave them in clean condition when you returned the key. It was an international dorm, and interesting smells were always coming out of those kitchens. I think I may have used them once or twice to bake a frozen pizza or something, as I had a meal ticket in the dorm cafeteria and they actually fed us pretty well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: podunkboy

        we had minimal cooking facilities that were often checked out too. One year (1999), there was no kitchen due to rennovations. We were alowed microwaves in our dorm rooms so i learned how to cook in it. It is amazing what you can do with a microwave if that is your only option. Now i use mine for heating water and not much else.

        1. re: podunkboy

          Both places seem like great places to me. It really depends on the school and the residential halls in the school, doesn't it?

        2. Went to college in the 1980s. Lived in three different dorms over four years (one year in an off-campus apartment). Approx 60% of students lived on campus, mostly freshman and seniors and a few sophomores and juniors. The school is co-ed.

          Facilities as follows:
          Dorm 1, built in early 1970s, one small ktichen served that dorm and adjoining dorm, a total of maybe 100 residents. Co-ed dorm.

          Dorm 2, a three story building built in the 1950s, Probably 150 residents. Co-ed. No kitchen that I recall, but maybe I missed it.

          Dorm 3, a converted 1920s era house with about 12 residents. Full size kitchen, living room and dining room. Co-ed dorm.

          In all cases, even in Dorm 3 with its full size kitchen, cooking equipment, including basics like plates and silverware, was limited which was not conducive to cooking in the dorms. Most of the student meal preparation went on at the houses and apartments of students who lived off-campus.

          1. I went to college this decade. The first 2 years I lived in dorms built in the 1960's, both equipped with kitchens on each floor (with stove/oven, microwave, and sink). The communal kitchens were invariably disgusting, and appliances were often removed b/c of "misuse" (like the time we had a 4am fire alarm b/c a guy microwaved his socks, in the kitchen of course, wouldn't want to make the bedroom smell like burnt elastic). Most of us also have fridges, microwaves and toaster ovens in our rooms. Oddly enough toasters and toaster ovens were "legal" but Foreman grills were not b/c they were considered a fire hazard.

            My 3rd year I lived in a brand new dorm. No kitchens. They kept promising we would have one, the room was there, with all the outlets and pipes capped. But the appliances and hardware never appeared.

            Since I graduated (but haven't moved on, my alma mater is now my employer) they renovated the dorms I lived in the first 2 years and converted one bedroom in each 4 bedroom suite to a kitchen/living area. They also built a bunch of new on campus apartments for undergrads. It's amazing how much college life has changed in just a few years.

            1. Dorm cooking: I had a nephew who made grilled cheese sandwiches on his iron. It didn't matter as he never ironed his clothes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Querencia

                i've wanted to try the ironed grilled cheese sandwich ever since johnny depp made one in benny and joon (but never got around to investing in an iron). glad to hear it works in real life.

                1. re: cimui

                  Then there's always fish cooked in the dishwasher.......

                2. re: Querencia

                  Yep. Me too. Wasn't tasty, but it worked. Especially at 3 AM.