By Sam Harley and Maggie Macintosh
Over a third of the public microwaves on campus can’t heat up Pizza Pops, an investigation conducted by The Eye has found.
After three hours of scanning every Ryerson building accessible to students on Sept. 18, The Eye found 21 public microwaves on campus. Of those 21, only 13 worked—and almost all of them needed to be wiped down before use.
The findings came as no surprise to Paige Madsen, a fourth-year Ryerson theatre student who said she frequently uses microwaves in the Hub Café, located in the Podium building, sometimes as often as three times a day.
“We need more of them, we need more in lots of different areas in the school and we need more that are just consistently checked to make sure they’re working,” Madsen said, after heating up her pasta dinner in one of the Hub Café microwaves.
“[Line-ups] are horrible. At lunchtime in the Hub you have to wait for, literally, 20 minutes to heat up your food.”
There are six buildings that house a microwave on campus that anyone can use, otherwise known as microwave hotspots. They include the Hub Café, the Library-Kerr Hall bridge, Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre (SHE), George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre (ENG), Student Campus Centre (SCC) and Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM). (For comparison, there are nine microwave hotspots on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus).
However, not all of Ryerson’s hotspots house functional appliances. The Eye found eight microwaves on campus didn’t work properly. Two of six microwaves in the Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre building and the Library-Kerr Hall bridge microwave didn’t turn on at all. Three microwaves in the Hub Café had notes on them, which read, “No power. Fixed soon.” And two microwaves in the Engineering building were hidden underneath a set of stairs, unplugged.
“We need to have ones that work. It doesn’t matter if there’s more of them if they’re not working,” said Ishmum Bashir, a fifth-year medical physics student who packs a lunch every day he’s on campus.
After The Eye presented the investigation results to Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi, he said Ryerson Eats installed six new microwaves two weeks earlier. Lachemi said they were purchased because he noticed long line-ups around the microwaves in early September.
The three microwaves in the Hub Café that had sticky notes on them are now working, he added.
Finding a microwave isn’t the only issue. Line-ups and cleanliness are common complaints too. Gabby Montesano, a fourth-year journalism student, said she is committed to bringing a lunch instead of buying one, but finds it very difficult to find a clean microwave to heat up her meals.
“The microwave I used in [Hub Café] was covered in ketchup, but I was desperate to heat up my lunch so I used it anyways,” she said. “It also didn’t work when I closed the door, so I had to hit it a few times.”
A study by the University of Arizona conducted in a shared office space of more than 3,000 employees found that 48 per cent of microwave handles had high contamination rates and were among the dirtiest surfaces in the offices.
University spokesperson Dasha Pasiy told The Eye that any microwaves in close proximity to a food service like the Hub Café, Library, TRSM and Engineering building are cleaned by the university’s food services multiple times a day, Monday to Friday.
All the residence buildings, which are not open to the general student population for use, are cleaned by an independent company, Pasiy said.
The two microwaves in TRSM are the only ones that have signs on them asking students to clean up after themselves.