Hide Your Dishes, Hide your Knives: Missing property leads to financial consequences for dining hall

By Megan Willis

Elm Staff Writer

“It’s fun,” one anonymous student said while explaining why he steals cups from the dining hall. “There’s just something really cool about it.”

While dining hall theft is prevalent in campuses across the nation, Director Donna Dhue explains why this is a particular issue at Washington College.

“We have nicer china,” she said. “It’s fun and colorful, but it also costs more.”

A dining hall mug costs $4.97. A bowl is $3.70. In total, one set of dishes is around $20.

“People complain about the food here,” Dhue said, “but what they don’t realize is we have a budget for food, dishware, labor. When we have to keep replacing dishes, it takes away from the money we have for food.”

Although students may be aware of how stealing dishes affects the school, they defend their actions.

“I pay $46,000 to go here. I see it spent on stupid things, so I want something back for my money,” said one student.

On any given day in the dining hall, one sees any number of students pack plates, bowls, and silverware in their backpacks to take out of Hodson.

“If we see a student taking something, we remind them that it’s not allowed.” Dhue said. “I don’t want to police students; I just want it back, no questions asked.”

The dining hall will be reinstating the anonymous drop-off boxes for dishes again this year. Students will be able to return stolen dishes without any repercussions.

“I like to collect a little set for my dorm room,” another student said. “At the end of the semester, I usually return everything. I don’t want to take it home. It’s just nice to have for a midnight snack or something.”

Of course, there are students who are respectful of dining hall property.

“No, I don’t want their dishes,” junior Erica Walburg said. “I have my own. I just don’t need theirs.”

However, with such high rates of theft, dining services may be forced to take different measures this year.

“Already I’ve had to place the ugly, older china out,” Dhue said. “We are also considering the idea of placing a set of dishes in every dorm room and charging the students for them so they already have a purchased set.”

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