UNH dining halls have a strict policy on what can and cannot be taken, but many students choose to ignore the rules. Students are permitted to take one piece of fruit, a brownie or cookie, and to fill up their Mug Club for free at HoCo, Philbrook or Stillings. These restrictions, which were put in place last year, are meant to save money and waste. During last year trays were also removed from Philbrook and Stillings in an attempt to cut down on uneaten foods and to save water. All of the dining halls have cameras outside the exit doors so students must be at least somewhat sneaky to get away with stealing. Throughout my time at UNH I have noticed that many students take more than what they are allowed from our dining hall, and I will admit that I do it too.
Before I sat down to write this I went to HoCo and partook in some observational research by watching students leave the dining hall. I felt like a creep, but it seemed as though every third or fourth student was attempting to steal. The thieves always had their hands shoved deep in the pockets of a baggy sweatshirt or jacket as if they were hiding something. They all looked nervous and they turned away from the person at the register as they walked by. Over the past two weeks I have been asking friends, acquaintances and complete strangers what they take from the dining halls and why.
Out of the 50 students I polled, 16 students admitted that they take food from the dining halls and seven said they have taken utensils or dishware. Exactly half of the students claimed that they take anything that they can fit under a jacket, while only two students said that they have never stolen from a dining hall. Just about every student has snuck out an extra piece of fruit now and then or maybe a handful of soup crackers, but that is not what I was interested in. Some of their answers are down right hysterical. I was surprised at how many students admitted to taking cups, plates, coffee mugs, silverware, the old salt and peppershakers and even trays.
I bet half the dorm rooms at UNH are fully furnished with kitchen sets from our dining halls. There are obvious reasons for taking certain items; the average student is not MacGyver, so if they take a fork they probably have a bunch of Ramen noodles back at their room. Then there are some items that are less obvious for their uses, such as the small ketchup containers. Now why would some steal one of those? Because they make excellent shot glasses.
The most common use of a tray is for sledding down library hill, trust me it is a blast. Trays can also be used for more practical uses such as a TV dinner stand. For all you romantics out there, remember Valentines Day is right around the corner. Why don’t you surprise you’re special someone with breakfast in bed? All you need is a winter jacket to slip the tray under and you are golden.
In order to write this article as accurately as possible I had to do some true gonzo-journalism. I enlisted several of my closest friends to take an item or two from a dining hall to see what we could get away with. All of our successful thefts were returned later on. Some of the things we got away with included a full salad bowl, trays, cups, and various pieces of silverware. We did return everything though; it was for the good of the study. Things we were not successful with included an armful of oranges, one of the cup carts, a container of cereal and a tray full of food. We did make it out the door with the oranges and the tray of food, but were caught by the register lady. Luckily it was two different people on two different days. When my roommate got caught with the oranges he was told, “this is not a grocery store.” I got caught with the tray and explained how I was a new transfer student and thought I could eat it in the food court. Denied.
According to Jon Plodzik, the director of dining, students who are caught stealing are reported the school’s Judicial Program in violation of the Student Rights, Rules and Conduct Code. Although a total monetary loss is not known, six of the new peppermills have already been stolen, which are priced at $30.25 a piece.
Stay classy, not UMassy.