Missing plates lead to $12,500 in losses

On Sunday, College Council (CC) Co-Presidents Nick Fogel ’12 and Francesca Barrett ’12 sent out an all-campus e-mail exposing the consequences of students not returning dining hall service ware to the various dining halls. The e-mail was part of a larger effort by both CC and Dining Services to bring awareness to this problem by placing signs with similar messages around the dining halls and setting up additional service ware collection stations across campus.

According to the e-mail, the cost of replacing missing plates in Whitmans’ alone this year has totaled $12,500 so far. The slower turnaround rate of dishware, which has caused longer lines in the dining halls, was also attributed to the problem of students not returning dishes.

Dining Services initially approached CC  about this issue in January and attended a CC meeting in February in which they discussed various ways to effectively address the issue. Both groups decided that students were not aware of the expense of the plates. An all-campus e-mail was suggested during this time. “CC discussed the issues regarding plates and decided that the best way to tackle this issue would be to alert students of the problem and ask students to return their plates in an easy, accessible manner,” Barrett said. “We hoped that once students learned about these costs and the potential benefits for returning the plates, the students who had stacks in their entries or common rooms would drop them off in the accessible bins that CC has placed around campus.”

“If [the loss of service ware] continues at the current rate, or if it increases, we’re worried about if we can provide efficient service,” Chris Abaysinghe, assistant director of student dining, said in the meeting with CC in February. Bob Volpi, director of Dining Services also attended the meeting and expressed concern, adding that the dishes problem also hindered Dining Services’ attempts to support more local and sustainable food, a topic that has been advocated for by many students.

Additionally, Abaysinghe and Volpi discussed the negative impacts the service ware problem has had on the reusable containers campaign, as Dining Services has saved considerably less money than expected with these new devices due to the overriding dish problem. “We believe that students would be receptive to stopping [the problem of dishes not being returned] if they knew the cost,” Volpi said.“Nick and I realized the positive impact on both the student body and Dining Services through campaigning to return the plates and making the student body aware of this solvable issue,” Barrett said.

The all-campus e-mail also introduced carnival-themed dinners on Sunday evenings in Paresky as a possible incentive for getting students to return their plates. “Returning your plates to the collection stations will help to ensure that these types of programming continue to flourish as well,” the e-mail said.

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