Of all of the banned items at SUNY Oswego, why microwaves?

OSWEGO, N.Y. — Most students living in a dorm at SUNY Oswego wonder at several points throughout the semester why microwaves are on the banned items list when several other schools allow them.

For some students living in the SUNY Oswego dorms, the arrangement is inefficient and needlessly cautious, while others say it is necessary and precautionary.

“They are a fire hazard,” said Makinzie Decker, a resident assistant on campus. “Most of the prohibited items are either too much of a risk to allow, or an incident happened in the past with it that landed it on the prohibited items list.”

SUNY Oswego allows students to use microwaves in the kitchen area of its dorm buildings, which are usually located in a lounge, and does not allow any microwaves to be used in student dorm rooms.

However, some students claim that microwaves are banned out of an overabundance of caution and that their presence on the banned items list is too restrictive.

“We don’t have many problems with that here,” said Fred Heidrich, a student at St. John Fisher College. “They allow them here as long as they don’t exceed 700 watts, which isn’t a problem. Occasionally someone misuses one but most people are fine. I mean, we are all adults here. We should know how to work a microwave.”

In addition to St. John Fisher, several SUNY schools allow microwaves in dorm rooms, including Binghamton and SUNY Delhi. SUNY New Paltz supplies a microfridge (microwave and fridge in one) for each room, eliminating the need for students to bring one. SUNY Buffalo also uses this method. The rules for each SUNY school vary, which may be confusing to some.

“The fire marshals usually set the rules about prohibited items,” Decker said. “Even if an incident has not occurred at Oswego, they can still add an item to the list. However, in recent years there have been a few incidents with people misusing the lounge microwaves and setting off fire alarms.”

Brittany Misnick, a North Corning firefighter, says that misuse of microwaves is what starts fires.

“Every microwave fire I’ve been at has been either someone putting food in for too long, or putting something like aluminum foil or metal inside. So not microwaves catching on fire randomly, most of the time someone just messes up and puts the wrong thing inside.”

According to Heidrich, a microwave ban demonstrates a lack of trust.

“Just because a few people mess up, everyone is now punished? I don’t think that’s fair to the majority of responsible people living in dorms in Oswego. Again, making food in a microwave is not this huge challenge that could go wrong at any moment,” he said. “Punish the people that are irresponsible but don’t punish everyone. There are bigger fire hazards, like people smoking in the dorms.”

However, Decker says that safety is the ultimate priority. “I know that for some it’s frustrating, but, when it comes to fires, it’s been determined that it’s better to remove that risk than to risk it.”

While SUNY Oswego students are frustrated that they aren’t afforded a privilege that is allowed at other schools, it is SUNY Oswego’s position that student safety comes before anything else, and based upon their evaluations, microwaves pose a threat to safety.