Yale Daily News

As students settle in for another semester, tests aren’t the only things they have been taking.

According to a Sept. 18 email sent to all Pierson students by the Pierson College Office, the residential college’s dining hall has lost over 80 percent of its mugs since the start of the semester. The number of bowls has dipped from 72 to 20 in the same amount of time, the email states.

“Please return them asap,” the email added. “Srsly.”

A collection bin outside of the dining hall has collected some wayward china, as have those in Ezra Stiles and Morse, among other colleges. Still, according to Yale Dining Communications Manager Melissa Roberts, the losses are part of a “truly [astounding]” upward trend in replacement numbers over the past two years.

Yale Dining replaced 5,076 bowls between September 2018 and August 2019, along with 4,080 mugs and 12,744 forks. For the prior academic year, Yale Dining replaced just 3,828 bowls, 3,336 mugs and 11,488 forks — marking an increase of 1,248 bowls, 744 mugs and 1,256 forks over the last year — Roberts wrote in an email to the News.

Since the “ideal supply number” across campus totals 9,000 of each piece — bowls, plates, mugs, tumblers, forks, knives and teaspoons — the branch of Yale Hospitality has been forced to restore over half of its supply of dishware every year, which can get pricey.

“While replacements are due to breakage, chipping and utensils accidentally (and with frequency!) ending up in the trash, the majority of missing items are more likely taken by students,” Roberts said.

While Yale Dining policy requires students to leave their identification cards behind when taking dishware outside of the halls, this is “very loosely enforced,” Roberts wrote. She said her team does not currently have a major initiative to stop theft.

In the data that Roberts provided to the News, some replacement rates have declined in the past two years. Hundreds fewer knives, teaspoons and soup spoons were lost in the 2018–19 academic year compared to the year prior.

Still, these utensils have suffered the same fate as other Yale Dining dishware. Roberts’ team replaced over half of its ideal quota for silverware in both years.

Roberts told the News that the missing dishware isn’t surprising — especially when student housing and dining halls are so close together.

And even though Rahshemah Wise ’22 has never stolen dishes, she understands how it happens.

“I feel like it’s not intentional,” Wise said. “It’s a lot easier to just keep them than to bring them back.”

Roberts added that the biannual dorm room inspections conducted by Yale Facilities — which occur before winter break and towards the end of the academic year — contribute to recovery efforts.

“It’s to be expected [that] a mug of coffee or bowl of cereal will be carried away and just end up where it was last used and perhaps stay there,” Roberts wrote. “That doesn’t make it okay, I’m just speaking to the logic of that particular scenario!”

Losses were more prevalent when each residential college had its own crested plates. They became “hot collector’s items,” she wrote, and have since been dedicated for special events like first-year and senior dinners. After the unique dishware phased out over eight years ago, Yale Hospitality decided to switch to generic china.

While the change was helpful, she wrote, “it hasn’t stemmed the ‘gone missing’ issue entirely.”

Yale Dining serves over 14,000 meals every day.

Matt Kristoffersen | matthew.kristoffersen@yale.edu

Correction, Sept. 27: A previous version of this story referred to Melissa Roberts as the communications director for Yale Dining. She is, in fact, the communications manager.

  • Brian Rokos

    Are they being taken as souvenirs? Do they have the university logo?