Oven pops in Gwinn

Oven misfire causes concern among students

David Armour, Staff Writer

A student scrolls through their phone as they eat breakfast in the Gwinn Dinning Hall. (Rio Giancarlo)

On May 16, students and staff were forced to temporarily evacuate Gwinn dining hall after reports of a loud bang, an incident that resulted in the fire department investigating the scene. Staff eventually declared it to be a particularly loud oven pop, which is often caused by overuse or an issue with the power supply, but is not a cause for major concern. However, this incident has brought the dining hall’s safety back into discussion just weeks after its food rating was downgraded.

First year English major Antonette Rice has seen oven pops happen before and explained that they occasionally happen on old equipment.

“I honestly don’t know that much – I wasn’t there and only know what people have told me. A friend of mine was around the area, and I’ve heard some things, but it’s hard to tell what stories are true or not. From what I’ve gathered, what happened is that the oven popped, which I’ve got some familiarity with. I’ve got some old stoves, and they do that sometimes,” Rice said. “They’re never as loud as Gwinn’s, but they’re always unexpected – you never expect your stove to catch fire, even if it’s just for a few seconds.”

To fourth year business administration major Tod Yansaomboon, the oven pop caused a sudden, shocking and somewhat confusing scene that the staff handled well.

“I heard something about an oven or a gas leak, but I’m not so sure about the exact details. I was right by the emergency exit when it happened, and when the alarm went off, the Gwinn workers came by and ordered us to evacuate,” Yansomboon said. “I was shocked when this went down, since nothing like this has happened in my four years here. The staff did well quicky evacuating us students.”

Such an unexpected incident was bound to cause uncertainty among students, with many unsuspecting attendees initially assuming that this was a scheduled test. When the alarm went off, third year marketing major Sage Driscoll did what she could to help evacuate people.

“There were a bunch of people wearing headphones or thinking it was a drill, and I ran around trying to make sure that they get out,” Driscoll said. “I think the staff handled it well – the staff evacuated quickly and came in to warn us.”

For second year accounting major Jacob Gray, this event served as the most visible of Gwinn’s recent incidents, and one of the most obvious signs of its decline.

“I was eating there and saw the workers yelling at everyone to evacuate. A minute later, the alarm went off,” Gray said. “When I was outside, I overheard the Gwinn workers talking about how the oven exploded, but there was no fire – just a slow gas leak. There have been a lot of bad things happening at Gwinn lately, and while I have no idea what caused it, my expectations of Gwinn have lowered.”

Despite the evacuation, Gwinn managed to resume operations within an hour of the pop. While certainly unexpected this time, the dining hall may be better prepared for another incident on the off chance that it happens again.

“These things usually shouldn’t explode like that, but I can see how it could’ve happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were smaller pops in the past before the one that we had in Gwinn a few days ago,” Rice said. “These usually seem really inconsequential up until the pop happens, and Gwinn probably just got unlucky with its old equipment.”

Gwinn staff were unavailable for comment.