Eating on the Mall: We should know better

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By now most students at the University of Dallas have seen the email sent by Dr. Gregory Roper, dean of students, on Oct. 21. The usual weekly email contained an important section titled “Cafeteria Privileges.” It warned students that their ability to eat food from the Haggar Cafe on the Mall was being threatened due to repeated instances of plates and food being left on tables, kids not on the meal plan sneaking in, etc. 

Thankfully, Roper and sophomore Student Government senator Luke Enriquez were able to obtain a two week “trial period” in place of a complete ban, leaving an air of uncertainty as to what will happen next.

The context of this is surely familiar to most, as the email details. Last year, those on the meal plan were not able to eat outside. The reason for this was not only the extensive amount of silverware, plates and food being left on tables outside, but also that plates and silverware were disappearing, often into the dorm rooms of students. And with food being snuck out to non-meal plan students, costs were being driven up.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of then freshman senator Enriquez, the privilege to eat outside was then granted to UD students this past April on several conditions: not only would UD students not leave plates and trash on the tables, but Roper would also cite students under Theft of Services if they were caught sneaking into the Caf.

Aramark certainly isn’t completely right. It doesn’t make much sense to threaten this right now. With November approaching, colder and rainier weather will become more frequent. Eating on the Mall will not be as popular for the next several months. Additionally, it doesn’t seem fair that students who were courteous — which I’m sure is most of the UD student body — would be punished for the laziness and theft of others. There are simple security measures that could be put in place to ensure that people don’t sneak in or leave their garage outside, such as having an extra Aramark employee or two at the Caf entrance to check for ID cards or even some standing outside at various times to make sure people aren’t taking silverware or leaving it outside.

Still, we are a school that promotes critical thinking and logical reasoning to solve difficult problems. If we examine the situation honestly, it should be fairly easy to see that this isn’t a one sided conflict. There is no excuse for leaving plates or garbage outside on the mall. For one, it’s simply common manners — you wouldn’t leave a plate with half eaten food sitting on a table at a guest’s house and expect them to clean it up for you. Likewise, we shouldn’t expect Caf workers — who are already working hard as it is — to clean up after us. We are adults; we surely can clean up after ourselves.

Putting Aramark aside for a second, let’s think about UD. I’m sure many of us have seen prospective students sitting in on classes and their families getting tours of the campus. Odyssey Day was just this past weekend. Now put yourself in the shoes of one of those students, as I’m sure most of us were at some point. Would you want to go on the Mall to see dirty plates crowding the tables outside and food littering the ground? 

I wouldn’t, for one, and I’m sure most of us wouldn’t want to either. We don’t want a dirty campus, and neither do the prospective students. Just the most basic consideration for our campus should have been enough to prevent this. It’s not a difficult thing to do if we are attending UD, where we are expected to read thousands of pages every semester, write essays and display across the board excellence in a variety of subjects, then we can easily throw our trash away and return plates and silverware to the Caf. In other words, UD students should know better.

I will also speak as a senator on Student Government. There is only so much that Enriquez and the student government can do on our own. The contribution from the whole student body is crucial so that these types of crackdowns don’t happen. Begging Aramark is not going to help much if the student body doesn’t have our back and shows us by their actions that they will help us in retaining these privileges and make sure these problems never happen again.

There is no way to know for certain what the end result of this will be. So in the meantime, let’s strive to hold each other to higher standards. Let’s throw our trash away and return our plates and silverware. It may not look like much, but it can go a long way to helping make UD the best campus it can be while also ensuring the students also enjoy it.

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