Dear Ethical Minds,
My apartment has accumulated a number of cups and other Peirce dishes over the semester. I feel guilty about having them in our apartment and think we should return them immediately. But my roommate says he will return them before the semester is over, and argues that if he is paying for meals from AVI but eating with borrowed dishes at home, he is actually saving Kenyon money on food, and not using any more dishes than he would be were he eating at Peirce. Which one of us is right?
Dear Cup Crusader,
You are. Your roommate’s argument is an interesting one, but ultimately a poor excuse for hoarding dishes that are not his. Love it or hate it, the beautifully simple Kenyon meal plan does not grant differential treatment to students who eat at the Deli three times a week, students who never get up for breakfast or students who eat their weight in soft serve at Peirce. It certainly does not cover ingredients for home cooking, and in the same way is not intended to outfit your apartment kitchen.
Your roommate’s argument suggests there is no difference between using a Peirce dish in Peirce and using it in your apartment, but this is not true. During a typical day at Peirce, dishes are washed and reused multiple times. A single plastic cup can serve many students over the course of a day. This is made impossible when a cup is taken back to an apartment for personal use.
Taking dishes from Peirce for a few hours so you can lunch at the library or take a snack to class is not an egregious crime, but they should be returned within a reasonable amount of time. Kenyon spends large amounts of money to replace lost or stolen cups, dishes and utensils each semester, and even if you plan to return them eventually, hoarding dishes in your apartment puts them out of circulation for months. It forces AVI to turn to one-time-use paper cups — at the time of a Nov. 21, 2013 Collegian article on the cup shortage, “Peirce cups an endangered species,” we were using 4,000 to 5,000 per week — which not only cost money but also are less sustainable than plastic.
In the end, your roommate is not simply borrowing cups and dishes from Peirce, he is effectively holding them hostage from other hungry students. And perhaps more importantly, he is harming the College — and the environment — by doing so.
McKinley Sherrod ’14 and Lizzie Thoreson-Green ’14 accept ethical dilemmas posed by the campus. Submit your queries to email@example.com.
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