By Anna Gombert
Over the past year, after the opening of the re-renovated Commons, the theft of utensils, mugs and plates has been rampant. Commons has taken steps to try to combat these thefts by replacing their green mugs with paper cups and closing the back exit.
The Student Government has started a Dining Hall Concerns Committee that has tried to help address some of the theft issues. Senator Raquel Cabrera (‘21), the committee chairman, explained some of the issues Commons has been facing. Over a thousand dollars have been spent on replacing utensils that have been stolen. “Theft in our dining hall has directly affected the choice of foods served. Since we have to constantly spend money on replacing utensils, we don’t have the funds to purchase better quality foods, or even the foods we enjoy most (hence why we only have chicken nuggets on the weekends now),” she explained. “Commons food has always been an issue to improve, but it is even harder when our funds need to be spent on things other than the food.”
Odir Pacheco, Director of Dining Services at Drew, stated, “We lost all but 10 of our coffee mugs in the first year of the new commons alone. Since the opening, we are down to less than 300 teaspoons that were purchased for the ice cream/dessert stations. A significant amount of dinner plates have also gone missing since the renovation.”
As most students know, the back doors by the plate drop off have been closed for the past few months. This was so students could be monitored as they left through the front door, to make sure they were not stealing any dishes. “We have had staff address students as they see them taking items from the Commons. Sometimes the response from the students has been hostile, but other times they comply with our request to leave the dishes, cups and flatware behind,” explained Pacheco. “The original design called for all students to enter and exit through the front, and we continue to develop strategies to accomplish this.” The back doors have recently been reopened, however, the Dining Hall Concerns Committee has discussed adding an alarm to the doors. They are also working on possibly creating a new job position in which someone, potentially a work-study student, would sit at the bottom of the stairs to monitor students leaving. Yet if students continue to steal, the alarms will be put in. “Right now I am trying to place posters in the Commons to make students aware of what can happen due to the theft,” said Cabrera.
Both student government and Treeline have worked to combat the thefts, and they have worked with Residence Life to create amnesty days in which students can return dishes and utensils without facing repercussions.
Because of the thefts, there may not be enough backup plates and utensils ready to go during the peak hours at Commons. As plates and utensils have to be cleaned and sanitized, there may not be fully stocked stations in the Commons.
“We are thankful that the students of Student Government and the Acorn are talking about this as we hope this will help to impact some peoples thoughts on taking items. Our staff greatly enjoy working with and for the students of Drew,” Pacheco stated.
Image Courtesy of the Drew University Student Government Facebook