The Dish on Dishes

This is a guest post by sophomore Nathan LaBarba, an SGA Senator.

This Tuesday you may have noticed Proctor’s (and Ross’s?) rather provocative display. 30 or so stacks of cup racks, with no cups. Attached to the stacks was a sign that read something along the lines of, “These were full when you guys left for Spring Break. Where have all our cups gone?”

Then, around 7 pm that evening, one of you, whose name I will not point out, wrote in reply, “Where did my $50,000 go?” This person believes that because of this person’s $50,000 tuition, the College should have purchased new cups for us all. This person is completely wrong in so many ways, which I will not take the time to point out. This person’s friends all laughed at his antics while others who read this person’s contribution to the sign walked away in disgust. Frankly, I don’t know where this person’s sense of entitlement has come from, but I hope (and am pretty certain) that most of you don’t believe the college should baby us by buying us new dishes when we take them or throw them away.

I had a conversation with Virginia on the Proctor dining staff that night. Because students are constantly looking for and asking for more cups and dishes during dining hours, often hostilely, she has taken to visiting the recycling center on her own time, without pay, and filling boxes with dishes and cups that students have thrown away. Her frustration almost moved her to tears. She took me back to the dish wash station and introduced me to the people who wash our dirty, disgusting dishes (without ever asking for a thank you), and they shared her sentiments.

The thing about this is that there is a really simple solution to this problem. If you take a dish out of the dining hall (which is fine), bring it back. Don’t put it in the box on your hall that says “please return to dining” because we all know that those just sit there.

Every one of us is at fault here, even those of us who don’t take dishes out of the dining hall. We all walk past those boxes and say to ourselves, “Nahh, I didn’t put anything in here, so I don’t need to take it back.” In a perfect world, we would be right. Unfortunately there are many people on this campus who think that they can put stuff there and that, for some reason, they are entitled to something we are not, which is an exemption from being responsible for their own mess. Until this changes, the rest of us have to do our part and carry those boxes back to the dining halls.

I wouldn’t have written this if I didn’t talk to Virginia in Proctor, who is impassioned beyond belief about this issue. If any of you had heard her, you would have been moved to do the same thing, trust me.

So let’s just all do our part and help out our outstanding dining staff, which serves each and every one of us for $3.17 per day, by bringing them back the dishes we have taken. I’m sick of drinking ginger ale out of a mug.


6 thoughts on “The Dish on Dishes

    • Sorry, it is a bit ambiguous. $3.17 is the amount that our dining staff is allotted per student, per day to feed us. I’m not making a comment about their earnings but rather their thoughtfulness and resourcefulness in managing to give us all we can ask for and more, three times a day, at such a low cost. It takes some creativity and cleverness that I think is underappreciated. Hope this clears things up!

  1. Nathan,

    You were very correct about everything in the blog, except: the sign read “these racks were full when you came back from spring break”

    This is because over our spring break coworkers and I went to recycling and the dorms and recovered over 1,300 pounds of dirty dishes.

    Yesterday Wayne our delivery driver went and got all the dirty dorm dishes at recycling. Today, 24 hours later, I went and got another trunk full of dishes.

    Something’s got to change.

  2. This is simply unbelievable. The entitlement of the students to act this way, or perhaps the dated way in which the dining system feeds Middlebury students, or some of each, needs some hard and fast reality checks.

    Is there any student leadership around this issue? Will the College need to move to recyclable paper plates, without any real dishware, to make a point to students? Is there no peer pressure to act properly?

    I find this so hard to believe — 1300 lbs of dirty dishes dumped in the recylcing bins since spring break. Again, simply unbelievable and so incredibly disappointing.

  3. I find it disturbing that this is the second time I am reading a blog about this topic. As a parent, I am apalled that some students would take advantage of what is provided for them by treating school property in this manner. I have spoken with my Middkid about this subject before and will bring it up once again. I would like Virginia to know that we appreciate the tasks that you and your coworkers have to accomplish each day. We appreciate you looking out for our Middkid by providing them with a less instutionalized dining experience. Some do not realize how good they really have it.

  4. Nathan, I agree with your sentiments and want to thank you for bringing attention to the dish problem. I do, however, take issue with the concluding line of your post. Shouldn’t our concerns lie with the hard-working dining staff, and not the students who are “sick” of drinking soda out of mugs? I assume you intended it to be a joke, but it rings of the same entitlement that we are trying to protest.

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