Over the past few semesters, students at the University of Dallas have been stealing in increasing amounts from the Haggar Café.
In addition to the sudden rash of vandalism across campus, plates, forks, cups and trays have been disappearing for months to the detriment of students and Aramark alike, according to Dining Services Manager Kyle Wilson.
“We’re almost out of cups again,” Wilson said. “When the prospective students came, we had 250 visitors, and we were washing cups as they came back. [For] some of the items it takes me a couple weeks to replace. We don’t have the old school cafeteria trays here. We have real china plates, so it takes a little bit to come in. That’s why your salad bowls [are] a little warm.”
Last semester alone, losses were between $10,000 and $15,000, but Wilson is not concerned with the cost as much as he is concerned with getting the materials back.
“I don’t want to focus on the number but rather on saying ‘let’s leave china in the café,’” Wilson said. “$10,000 or $15,000, it’s still a whole lot more than it should be. Hundreds of cups and hundreds of plates and hundreds of forks add up really quickly. Our goal is to bring awareness. Not everyone knows we have the to-go program, but it exists, so if more folks can know how it works, the better off it will be for all of us.”
Technically, students are not allowed to take anything other than a green to-go box out of the cafeteria.
“We have everything you need to take food out of here,” Wilson said. “We have disposable cups, silverware and napkins. We provide everything at no cost. The to-go box is a $5 deposit … as long as you bring it back at the end of the year or the end of your time at UD, you get your $5 back. In all practical purposes, it’s free.”
Students can consult an Aramark employee at the front desk to purchase a to-go box or a green card.
Declining balance can be used for the $5 deposit.
In response to proposals, such as those of Student Government Treasurer-elect Mike Woodrum, of adding a railing, disallowing open walkways from the cafeteria to the rest of campus, Wilson is open-minded but wishes to seek other options first, mainly the return of missing goods.
“We’re open to anything,” Wilson said. “There used to be a fence [on the patio], but back in the day it had to be taken out because of fire code. Our goal is to not add restrictions. We’re not trying to be a nuisance. We’re just trying to get the word out so that people are more aware of it. If you’re walking out with dishes, bring them back. If you’re sitting out in the foyer, be aware and respectful of bringing everything back in.”
He also stated that he appreciates the current logistics of the cafeteria.
“We’re very blessed to have this facility,” Wilson said. “The dining café was redesigned in 2012, which was a beautiful renovation. Very rarely do you have a café that has two story glass windows to overlook a tree line with patios on both sides to be able to sit outside. I’ve been on many different campuses, and we are very blessed with the dining space that we have because a lot of times it’s a basement or in the middle of a building. Regardless, it typically isn’t a relaxing study area.”
While it is unlikely the cost of a meal plan will increase in the fall to accommodate for losses, Wilson says he simply wants the utensils back and is considering imaginative means of reacquiring them.
“We know that no one is doing it maliciously and everyone is busy grabbing this and that and then walking out the doors with stuff,” Wilson said. “We just want people to know that if you have a pile in your room, bring it back. Especially with the green to-go boxes, because that’s a nice feature to have, but we can’t provide them for folks to take all of them out. We’ve discussed the possibility of having a large box placed in each of the dorms one day for dishes. It will be like an amnesty day. I don’t care who has it. I just want it back.”
Wilson, along with Director of Student Life Doré Madere, first proposed the idea of a monthly amnesty day last semester at a Town Hall meeting hosted by SG.
Madere cautioned at the meeting that students must be aware of the monetary consequences of changes to Dining Services, since the costs will be passed from Aramark to the university and finally to students.