Starting this semester, the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) and the modular units will no longer have bins to return dishes to Peirce Hall. Fred Linger, manager of business services, said that the bins should not be in buildings anyway. Instead, they were put there as “an economic response” to get back dining utensils.
“Because the bins are there, the perception is that it is permission to take the dishes out. It’s really not,” he said. “We would like all the bins to go away and the dishes to stay in the building.”
Although the modular units will not allow Peirce dishes or cups, students can still bring in food, according to Vice President for Library and Information Services Ronald Griggs. “[Since] so many students spend so much time in the library, [a no-food policy] seems like an unreasonable restriction,” Griggs said. “But, we have to create an environment that we can keep clean.”
Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman noted that students taking Peirce dishes have been a problem for many years. The College and AVI have been trying to find solutions to help bring back dishes for a while. Putting bins in buildings across campus is one of these ways.
Christopher Wisbey, resident director of AVI, said one of the many locations for the bins was in Peirce, next to the doors and by the seal. This measure came after finding many dishes in the parking lot in front of Peirce. Despite being very close to dish return, this bin was always full.
Placing bins across campus also requires hiring an employee to pick up the dishes placed in the bins. “That costs money as well,” Griggs said.
“We are at the 10th anniversary of being in this remodeled [Peirce] building,” Linger said. “It has been 10 years that this has gotten increasingly worse, and I think you really saw it at a real low last spring. When school ended it was as bad as it has ever been.”
According to a May 3 Collegian article, the budget for Peirce utensils was $15,000 for the 2010 academic year. Wisbey said that this number went up to $35,000 for this year.
In addition to being a problem of sustainability, removal of Peirce dishes can be a safety hazard. “Uneaten food can be a threat to people who have allergies,” Griggs said. “Leaving a plate with peanut butter on it in places where other people don’t expect to see it is a problem, especially because so many people come to the library.”
One of the new plans this year is to order dishware for student apartments, according to Linger. The utensils ordered for the apartments will be a different color to separate it from Pierce dishware.
“The intent is for the [dishes in the apartments] to be there year after year until they are not usable. We don’t want to have to do that again next year,” Linger added. “We should not see that color of dishware out on campus — they are made to stay in the apartments. If they take them out on campus, we are not going to be collecting those and bringing them back. So that will be a loss.”
Jake Barnett ’20, the chair of the Housing and Dining Committee, noted that in the student handbook, taking and not returning Peirce dishes is considered theft.
“Peirce is not a to-go facility,” he wrote in an email. “Peirce is a sit down dining hall. Students should go out of their way to make time in their schedules to have a meal at Peirce. That being said, there are circumstances where students do not have time to sit down for a full meal in Peirce. In those circumstances if a student chooses to remove a dish from Peirce they should go above and beyond to ensure the dish is quickly returned.”
The College might also offer quick grab-and-go food options in the Pub next semester, according to Kohlman. The College is also considering fewer room reservations during meal hours in order to ensure there are enough seats for students.
“I suspect different people have different reasons why they brought dishes out. If one of the reasons is ‘I can’t find a seat,’ then we want to create more space for seats and we want to have campus events stop competing with student dining,” Griggs said. “I think it can work, and I think, like any change, we have to make adjustments.”
Wisbey hopes these efforts will help sustain the number of Peirce dishes and cups. When students take dishes out, they are taking away money that could be spent on food.
“We spend a lot of money on dishes and that is a lot of money that can go back into our dining program that unfortunately we are often not able to do. We can do fun, cool things at the end of the semester, but towards the end, we start to buy dishes and stop doing those fun, cool things,” Wisbey said. “Leave dishes for your fellow students — you are only hurting each other.”