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A Student Asks Me About Toaster Ovens.

Starting next month, I will be a Resident Advisor (or, as ISU calls it, Community Advisor) in a hall full of super-smart honors students. Since these kids are all so smart, I have chosen to distinguish myself by answering questions with stupid (but still useful) answers. Let the fun begin.

The Question

Hello, my name is Wide-Eyed-Ambitious-Freshman, and I have been told by my sister, Wide-Eyed-Ambitious-Sophomore (names have been changed), that you will be my CA this year.

I just have a question for you about Residence hall policy: Are toaster ovens allowed? The policy handbook said no open flame devices are allowed, but toaster ovens don’t really seem to fit into that catagory. On the other hand, it has always been my understanding that toasters were against the rules, so I figured toaster ovens would be too. But maybe things have changed. Anyway, if you could let me know for sure, I would really appreciate it.


The Answer

Note: You may of course read the official transcript of the answer as written by me below. However, I believe you will derive a good deal more enjoyment from watching my friend Martin deliver the story in his trademark British accent. 


Hi Wide-Eyed-Ambitious-Freshman,

Unfortunately, toaster ovens are not allowed in the residence halls.

I believe this is due to the Great Toaster Oven Incident of 1975. Prior to that year, there was another residence hall on campus called Holcomb Hall. It was located on what is now the lawn behind the Hixson-Leid Student Success Center, and it was the best of all the residence halls. The bathrooms were sparkling clean, the hallways were brightly lit, and every room was ridiculously large. Holcomb Hall stayed in immaculate condition for a number of years due to the great care taken by Super-CA Zach Matthews. Zach presided as Super-CA for almost 23 years due to his so-called ludicrous goal of graduating with every degree ISU had to offer. During that 23 years, Matthews enforced an extremely effective policy that he called, “It’s-Not-An-Invasion-Of-Privacy-Because-You-Don’t-Own-The-Building”, or INAIOPBYDOTB for short. This policy had a 100% student approval rating as determined by a survey that included a complimentary $100 bill and a sandwich made by Paula Dean (the administration had been assured that students of Generation X could not be swayed by bribes).

The policy consisted mainly of Matthews performing a personal inspection of each student’s room on a nightly basis. Items that were removed (and subsequently sold on the black market) on sight included alcohol containers, smoking pipes, lava lamps, lighters, military-grade weaponry, monkeys and other exotic animals, and most of all, TOASTER OVENS. It’s not that Matthews had a personal vendetta against these culinary contraptions; he just knew from his home economics class that they could be hazardous.

And so, for almost 23 years, Holcomb Hall remained a bastion of luxurious student living – although the 10:00pm weekend curfews and corporal punishment for noise violations were view by some as “progressive”.

All went well until Fall 1975. At the end of the spring prior, Zach Matthews graduated Magna Cum Laude with 79 distinct degrees. He looked pretty awkward carrying the flags for six different colleges, but by God he reached his goal. After the following summer, the Department of Residence decided to take a stand against the general Republican attitude of the time and hire a CA with a “different” attitude. Consequently, Charles “Disco Explosion” Malone was hired as the new CA of Holcomb Hall.

As it turns out, “Disco Explosion” was VERY different than Matthews. He was reported missing after only 4 days on the job, and officials found 38 pounds of cocaine in his CA room and a message on the wall written in red glitter spraypaint that said, “I’m the boss of ALL Y’ALL cats now!!!!!!!” He was later found in Costa Rica accompanied by a 65-year-old woman who was only identified as “Peggie”.

During Malone’s four-day absence, all manner of contraband found its way into Holcomb Hall. Weapons, zoo animals, and all manner of illicit substances flowed freely throughout the halls. Not surprisingly, most rooms ended up containing a brand new toaster oven within 48 hours of Malone’s disappearance.

On the evening of August 29th, 1975, a drug-addled student decided it would be a good idea to stick his radio inside the toaster oven to quote, “warp the funky beats with heat”. Unfortunately, the D-cell batteries that were powering the radio promptly burst into flames, setting the gold carpet that adorned the entire building ablaze.

Sadly, the fire department was not able to arrive in time, as they were blocked by a bunch of drunken fraternity brothers who were loudly singing serenades to some pretty girl on 5th floor from their Cadillac convertibles. Holcomb Hall burned to the ground and all inside perished.

After that fateful event, the administration decided to extend the toaster oven ban to every residence hall on campus, vowing to never again allow them to harm a student. As an added measure, they proclaimed that any student caught using a toaster oven on the campus premises would be subject to 100 days of having their name intentionally mispronounced by each of their professors. Since then, no toaster ovens have been seen at ISU.

Of course, a certain segment of the campus population believes that this whole incident was made up by some CA who couldn’t be bothered to ask the administration why there is no good explanation for the toaster oven ban in the residence hall handbook. However, that theory has yet to be proven.

I hope this has helped you, and I look forward to meeting you in the fall. 🙂