The Immaturity and Immorality of Cowan Dish Theft


By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Editor’s Note: The Editorial Board of the Cento is composed of members of the staff and does not reflect the opinions of any one individual on the staff. The Editorial Board represents the voice of the Cento.

Cowan Dining Commons and Sodexo Dining Services are common topics of discussion on Centre’s campus. Every student has some commentary on the food, seating, hours, Every Day Café prices, and many other concerns. The latest theme in the Cowan discussion pertains to lack of sufficient dishes, cups, and silverware. The regular drink cups often run out mid-meal, coffee cups are an endangered species only to be found in the far reaches of Nichols Dinning Room, and the utensils appear to walk out of the building.

These items don’t just disappear; people take them. Faculty and staff have little use for commercial grade dishes and flatware. Students, on the other hand, tend to have much more limited resources and appear to have few scruples when it comes to free stuff. But the Cowan dishes aren’t free and the issues associated with the theft are numerous. It’s obviously wasteful, as the dishes are still (hopefully) on campus, but Sodexo must buy more. Additionally, buying more is a waste of financial resources, something us poor college students should be deeply concerned.

With the growth of environmental activism, any discussion of waste must include mention of ecological damage. Often times students will be seen leaving Cowan with a drink cup and simply toss it in the trash on their way to class. Throwing away dishes is incredibly wasteful, and we, as students, know it. Most of our dishes are plastic, and thus petroleum based. The physical resources required to make these dishes are limited and producing more has an obvious negative environmental impact. Moreover, the theft is a double-edged sword. When dishes are stolen, Sodexo must order replacements, but these don’t show up overnight. So, the campus is left with inferior disposable products whose environmental effect is even worse than that of purchasing new dishes. At least it is safe to assume the new dishes will be reused.

Physical resources aren’t all that’s required for new dishes; students actually have to pay for this stuff. It might not appear that way when students have taken an entire dinner set to their rooms in Nevin or Breck, but there is an associated cost to the campus. Complaints about Cowan abound across campus: the food is bad, the food isn’t local, the food isn’t organic, students want to be more food variety, whole wheat pizza, higher quality meat, the list continues on infinitely.

How can students expect an improved dining experience when they are literally siphoning off thousands of dollars. In the 2011-2012 school year, the cost of stolen dishes amounted to around 20,000 dollars. Since August, Sodexo has ordered new dishes multiple times, and the trend of thievery continues. The Editorial Board is fine with criticisms, but not hypocritical ones. If students truly desire a better Cowan experience they should stop stealing dishes and return those they’ve already taken.

The students of Centre College are all adults. Superficially, students know theft is wrong and immoral. Yet, there appears to be a disconnect when it comes to the theft of Cowan dishes. The student body indirectly pays for the dishes through tuition, so it should be their prerogative to decide how the dishes are used, right?

Currently, Sodexo has a relaxed policy on dishes leaving Cowan. The cashiers don’t forbid the removal of dishes. Sodexo assumes the dishes will be returned promptly, but as the campus has come to realize, this is not the case. Sodexo would have every right to ban the removal of dishes from Cowan Dinning Commons. That means no more enjoying meals comfortably on the couches with a warm fire. That means when Cowan gets packed, students will just have to deal with the cramped quarters.

The Editorial Board encourages students to think more critically about their actions regarding Cowan dishes. A plate or a cup here or there might not seem like much, but if every student stole one spoon or bowl, soup would become rather difficult to eat. Each theft adds up. Centre students are adults and should hold themselves responsible for their actions. Cowan can’t improve even more if Sodexo is required to shell out 20,000 dollars a year to replace cups, plates, bowls, and silverware.

In the coming week, the RA staff will be approaching students with a guilt-free method to return stolen Cowan dishes. The Editorial Board strongly recommends students take advantage of this opportunity and preemptively strike any possible policy changes that would limit the use of Cowan dishes.

So as adults, let’s all act responsible and fork over the dishes.


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