How to Bring the Plates Back to Lower

Where have all the plates gone? Long time passing. Where have all the plates gone? Long time ago. Where have all the plates gone? Young students stole them, everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn?

As you might be able to tell from that clever little ’60s folk music reference, the issue of missing plates at Corcoran Commons remains relevant to Boston College Dining Services. According to BC Dining, more than 2,000 plates are missing from Corcoran Commons. At the beginning of the semester, all food at Corcoran Commons was served on reusable plates. This was part of a sustainability initiative, meant to prevent students from taking  to-go containers and eating in the dining hall. Encouraging the use of reusable plates was supposed to lower the use of these containers. Students who want to use  disposable containers must ask a cashier to provide them and then transfer the food themselves.

Since this was initiated, incidences of plate larceny have skyrocketed. Instead of asking for to-go containers at the cashier, students appear to be bringing plates back to their rooms and not returning them. This means that the dining hall has to use disposable containers to make up for the lost plates, which, as Elizabeth Emery, director of BC Dining, said, “defeated the whole purpose.”

This is an unfortunate situation that is clearly difficult to address, as students have to return the plates themselves. One possible way to encourage students to return plates would be to designate a small unused area of dormitory trash rooms for plates. Students who otherwise might not bring the plates back to Lower might be willing to drop the plates in the trash room to be picked up. While this would require someone to pick up the plates, it is one possible way to attempt to retrieve the lost plates.

Another useful attempt to improve BC Dining’s sustainability would be to encourage the phasing out of plastic containers in favor of the cardboard, biodegradable containers, which are the ones that students must now specifically request at the cash register.

BC Dining has taken good steps to hear, understand, and address student concerns, with more meal options and convenient channels for student feedback. The creation of a student dining advisory board this semester was a good way for BC Dining to respond to student concerns and should be continued. BC Dining’s responsiveness to email requests also helps in these efforts. Collaborative efforts between BC Dining and students are a good way to address current issues and improve the dining halls for the future. Hopefully this collaboration can help bring the lost plates back to Lower.

Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Archives

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