Scented candles, diffusers should be allowed in dorms

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Scents are a huge part of the human experience and colleges should allow candles in dormitories so students can reap the benefits.  

Through all the chaos of college life, aromas can make the most unbearable days seem doable. 

These scents serve such a grand purpose that the essential oil market is set to hit $13 billion by 2024.

Essential oils can reduce anxiety, increase sleep and are even linked to stabilizing blood pressure. 

Much of this has to do with the brain’s anatomy as olfactory responses are tied to the emotional center of our brains and connect scents to memories. Thus, it elicits certain chemical responses when a familiar smell is wafted by. 

This phenomenon is even found in a literary passage by French author Marcel Proust. It has since been coined the “Proustian moment” known as a sensory experience triggering memories from the past. 

And it’s not just literature telling us of scents’ hidden abilities but science too.

Scented candles have been scientifically proven to be beneficial with certain scents linked to improving concentration and focus while also releasing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that ease anxiety and depression. 

However, college students are often robbed of the benefits of scented candles, incense and diffusers as many dorm regulations forbid them.

UH prohibits candles and incense due to the risks of fire hazards. 

This leaves students with little to no options.

While there are always risks when it comes to open flames and walls filled with plugs, colleges need to step back and understand these are not being operated by children left unattended but by adults seeking higher education to further both their lives and careers. 

Instead of completely banning these scientifically-proven mood and study boosters, colleges could enforce other regulations like requiring someone to be in the room for a candle to be burned. 

These less-extreme preventative measures allow a safe dorm experience while also letting students feel more at home.

For students interested in what scent would benefit them best, studies link certain smells to certain perks; lemon promotes concentration, lavender is found to be calming, rosemary will help those fighting fatigue and cinnamon is for those go-getters ready to focus and study.  

Overall, college students should be trusted to handle candles and be able to reap the benefits many scents provide. 

After all, the smell of fresh-baked cookies never hurt anyone. 

Sarah Elise Shea is a freshman English literature major who can be reached at [email protected]

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