Residential colleges are working with students to avoid the continued loss of tens of thousands of dollars worth of dining hall materials.
On Friday, the Berkeley College Master’s Office sent an email to its students asking them to return mugs to the dining hall, which is currently missing 394 of its 400 mugs. But the problem of dining hall mugging has become universal — over the past 12 months, Yale Dining has lost 3,276 mugs and spent $90,000 to replace them as well as other dining hall materials, said Director of Residential Dining Cathy Van Dyke.
Berkeley Dining Hall Manager Monica Gallegos said mugs, plates and silverware are often lost at a faster rate than the dining hall can replace them. Silliman chef Stu Comen said he places the blame not on students, but on low-grade materials.
“I don’t think the plate shortage or mug shortage is due to theft, but breakage because they are just not of good quality,” he said. “In our dish room there’s a bin full of broken dishes — we fill up a bin everyday with broken mugs, dishes and soup bowls.”
But Van Dyke said Yale Dining estimates accidental breakage accounts for some lost objects, but two-thirds of the total amount missing is due to Yale students taking them and not returning them.
Calhoun Dining Hall Manager Jeffrey Hughes said breakage is only a minor part in the problem of lost dining hall property when compared to student misplacement. The only way to get these materials back is if students decide to help Yale Dining, he said.
Anna Russo ’17 said she and three of her friends are taking the initiative to get Berkeley’s mugs back by throwing a “mug party,” in which students will be asked to bring and drink from dining hall mugs before returning them.
“The idea was originally that we thought it was funny students were stealing from the dining hall and all of us had so many mugs in our rooms,” she said. “But now we are going to try to do the whole college a favor and collect them.”
With the help of Berkeley Master Marvin Chun, who has agreed to give Russo and her fellow hosts $50 to buy snacks for the party, Russo predicted that it will be a success. As of Sunday night, 187 students had committed to attending the event on Facebook.
Van Dyke said spoons, tumblers, mugs and plates are the items that most often go missing. But because mugs are most expensive and least numerous, Van Dyke said, their loss has had the greatest impact on Yale Dining. She added that missing dishes and utensils are often found in the trash, student kitchens, butteries and, most of all, student rooms.
Of 13 students interviewed, 11 said they either have or know someone who has taken materials from a residential dining hall. Maggie Moor ’18 said she has never taken dining hall property, but she knows students who do so to impress their classmates.
“The reason people take stuff is to show off to their friends,” she said. “People who do that are inconsiderate because the materials are not yours and are hard to get back.”
Megan Perkins ’16 said that if plastic silverware is not available, she often takes spoons from the dining hall while on the run for breakfast. She added that she normally returns the spoons to the collection bins later in the day.
The mug party will be held at 9:30 p.m. on Friday and is open to all Yale students.