Walk with me into your kitchen. Or, for my underclass(wo)men out there, pull open that pitiful drawer where you keep your dishes and your food. Count up how many adorable black Usdan bowls, amber-colored ribbed cups, charmingly stout black coffee cups, timeless white plates you see. Feeling the shame yet? No? Take a look at your silverware. While it may not look like this set, it probably has that crooked or all-too-flat flatware look that you’d find in, none other but, the Usdan Marketplace. Yes, for those of you who are lucky enough to have picked up a copy of Tuesday’s
Argus misprint, you know the diatribe I’m prepared to launch into in this post. Stealing at Usdan, it’s an issue. But, why is it an issue? My first step was to ask why students steal.
Read on after the jump to find out my musings on the staggering increase in one semester of theft over last year (shown above); why students steal; how it affects not only Bon Appetit, but the students themselves; the newly implemented measures for Dishware Amnesty; and why we ought to just quit stealing from ourselves all together. There’s a special treat for those of you
bored courageous enough to read all the way to the end of this post.
Perhaps you’ve heard the myth that Bon Appetit already factors in a “stealing fee” into the meal plan. It’s a strange piece of folklore that seems to have taken hold of the student body for the last several years. That’s to say, students believe that Bon Appetit preemptively charges them for stolen dishware and food on the assumption that students will steal throughout the year. So, students think they’re entitled to take what they want from Bon Appetit. They no longer see taking some dishes from Usdan as stealing, but rather as taking what’s rightfully theirs from the beginning.
Another factor that motivates students to steal seems pure laziness. Students are too lazy to go buy their own dishes for their dorm room, their apartment, or their house. Finally, another huge motivating factor remains this normative label on stealing at Wesleyan. Essentially, people think, “Oh, everyone steals from Usdan, so my stealing one bowl or not won’t make a difference anyway.” And here I thought that Wesleyan was all about challenging norms?! For this issue, we’d be smart to heed the advice of Professor Plous in crafting our message to our peers. Nica Latto ’12 summed up his message quite nicely:
This implicit message that everyone is doing it, makes our actions normative, which paradoxically makes it seem okay to start or keep doing it.
At the end of the day, who are you really stealing from when you walk out those glass double doors with your stolen black bowl in hand? Are you stealing from Bon Appetit? Are you stealing from Wesleyan University? Honestly, you’re stealing from yourselves. And you’re stealing from each other. By stealing, we give up our right to ask for the inclusion of more local food, later hours at Pi Café, a Late Night Delivery Program, part-time staff to keep their hours, or an extra Sushi Night each semester. We give up those rights because we send a message to Bon Appetit that we just don’t care enough to stop walking out with their dishes. We’d rather have that classy amber-colored, ribbed cup in our pantry than any new additions to our dining program. The simple fact remains that Bon Appetit is a business, contracted through the University. I may have never taken ECON 101 or ECON 110, but even I know that your expenditures can’t exceed your revenue.
When students steal over $14,000 worth of dishware in two months, the basic reality persists that the University can no longer spend that money on something actually exciting for the Athletics Department, the Career Resource Center, the IT Department, the CFA, the Science Library, or the History Department. As the years progress and stealing remains a pressing issue at Wesleyan, you’ll inevitably see an increase in that elusive residential comprehensive fee.
Over the next week, you’ll see collection bins in Fauver and Clark, so that students may return their dishware with the utmost convenience. For those of you who don’t live in those dorms, you can feel free to simply return your dishes to Usdan. While Dishware Amnesty programs alleviate the problem, the solution lies in preemptive prevention. So, when you hold onto your dishes even for a few weeks, waiting to return them in Amnesty bins, Bon Appetit must buy new dishes to replace the ones you’ve taken.
Yet, stealing did not always go unchecked. In previous years, Aramark, Wesleyan’s dining service provider prior to Bon Appetit, employed a Public Safety officer to ensure that students were neither stealing food nor dishware from the dining halls. If students were caught stealing, the offense typically resulted in an SJB hearing. Bon Appetit has no interest in applying punitive consequences to students stealing from the dining halls. Their goal is simple: Don’t steal from them, so that they can create a better dining program for you.
So, let’s help ourselves to a better dining program, and remind each other that stealing is, in fact, illegal for a reason. If you’ve read this far in my post, then I seriously applaud you and thank you for reading. Here’s a gift out of my gratitude. Cause you know Beyoncé wouldn’t be down with theft.