Microwave mishap in MacGregor Hall alarms student residents

Graphic by Carrie Clowers ’18

Graphic by Carrie Clowers ’18


Students evacuated MacGregor Hall and Ham Hall for two hours on Friday evening due to misuse of a microwave. As smoke filled the second floor of MacGregor, it set off the building’s fire alarms.

“I was evacuated when it happened,” said Shana Seligman ’21, a resident of MacGregor Hall. “I was on the fifth floor, but as I went down there was a lot of smoke coming from the second floor.”

“It was pretty bad, to the point where it was hard to breathe,” said Mimi Huckins ’21. “There was enough smoke that no one could go back in or be close to the building.”

When other students, like Taylor Hall ’21, arrived on the scene they were surprised to find their dorm in astate of emergency. “I wasn’t in the building when the alarm went off,” said Hall. “I use the ARC van to get around because of a bad knee, [and] so when I got in the van to go back to MacGregor, the driver mentioned that there were six or seven emergency vehicles parked outside.”

“When the police officer said to get somewhere safe and that they didn’t know when we’d be allowed in again, I thought it was a much bigger deal than it turned out to be,” said Seligman. “I was genuinely under the impression that a fire was raging through the halls and was shaking for a while afterwards.”

None of MacGregor Hall was damaged, according to Christina Elder ’18, the building’s SCA (Senior Community Advisor). “Use of a microwave caused smoke detectors to trigger the fire alarm,” she said. “There was no serious damage, and everyone is perfectly fine.” 

Apparently, the microwave in question had long been defective, and was one that most students avoided. 

“The microwave hasn’t been working for weeks,” said Hall.“Food always comes out cold no matter how long you leave it in for and it makes weird noises.”

Virginia Butt ’21 agreed. “That microwave had been having issues since we got back,” said Butt. “It probably was just the tipping point for it.”

Students living in MacGregor — a Living Learning Community for first-years — and the connecting Ham Hall were allowed to return to their rooms around 8 p.m. Back inside, some students decided to investigate, but found no signs of an actual fire.

“A few of us went to the second floor to check it out and there was a horrible burnt smell, but from what we saw, the microwave was still sitting on the counter,” said Hall. “It’s a white microwave, so we would have seen if it was scorched and it wasn’t. There was even a bowl of ramen still inside.”