The new mugs that students found in dining halls this fall may have become a bit too popular.
Yale Dining expects to lose about 25 percent of its china each year, Assistant Director of Sustainability and Supply Management Geraldine Remer said in an email to the News, but over 75 percent of mugs have already disappeared this year in some residential colleges. Remer said the size of the new mugs makes them “more versatile,” but their rapid disappearance has led some dining hall desk attendants to monitor students more strictly.
“I find cups and mugs all over outside and in the library,” said Nadine Ricks-McCollum, a desk attendant at Davenport dining hall. “When we’re trying to feed 450 people, we run into problems.”
Students often want to take their drinks outside, into the library or into their rooms, Executive Director of Yale Dining Rafi Taherian said, but not everyone returns them. Regenia Phillips, director of residential dining, told the News Monday that she plans to work with residential college masters to encourage students to return mugs, but she has already ordered a new shipment to replace stolen ones.
In an email sent to Saybrook students on Tuesday, Saybrook dining hall operations manager Ann Marie Apicella called the shortage a “very important matter” and asked students to return mugs, “no questions asked.”
Even when desk attendants make extra efforts to catch culprits, a “constant” flow of students often slip behind their backs, Berkeley dining hall desk attendant Annette Tracey said.
But one desk attendant, who asked to remain anonymous because of her leniency, said she sympathizes with students who want to take their drinks with them.
“Sometimes I see tired students early in the morning sneaking out coffee and soup in the mugs, and I let them slide,” she said. “Parents pay so much money for their kids to come here. Why shouldn’t they get what they want?”
Dining halls provide paper cups for students to take outside and throw away, but three students interviewed said they did not know where to find them. Monica Disare ’15 said she was forced to drink her coffee from a transparent plastic cup Wednesday morning when she found no china or paper cups.
Remer said students can ask desk attendants for disposable cups, but some desk attendants interviewed did not know where they could be found or whether they should charge students for the cups. Yale Dining officially began charging 25 cents per paper cup after it distributed free, reusable stainless steel thermoses last September. Freshmen also received their own thermoses this fall, but three freshmen interviewed said many do not use the thermoses regularly.
Michael Barton ’14 said he expects mugs to continue to disappear unless dining halls make disposable cups more accessible.
“Until Yale Dining provides a viable alternative, this problem isn’t going to stop,” Barton said.
Eight students interviewed cited convenience as the main reason why so many students take mugs with them after they eat, and some said they want to avoid buying their own thermoses. Disare said one of her friends took a mug of coffee to his economics lecture “in an attempt to stay awake.” Allen Granzberg ’13 said he can see the motivations behind students’ actions, but he said he expects that most of them will eventually return the mugs.
“I don’t think people are being malicious, and I do think most people will give them back,” Granzberg said.
This year, Yale Dining also replaced individual residential college china with larger, generic plates, which are intended to reduce the use of trays and discourage theft.