Cafeteria battles plate thieves


A student scans his ID at the new cafeteria line set-up. The cafeteria is prohibiting non-paying students from entering during meal times. Photo: Miranda Jacobson

Miranda Jacobson, Editor


Returning students may have noticed that stricter security measures have been put in place in the Patterson Hall cafeteria this semester, as the college steps up its battle against those nefarious ne’er do wells who have been the scourge of Sierra Nevada Col­lege’s criminal underworld: Plate thieves.

According to an email from Layne Sessions, the school’s director of facilities, the cafeteria’s cashier stand was moved from the opening of the kitchen, to the walkway at the beginning of Pat­terson Hall, where people come in and out to get food. The cre­ation of one entrance and one exit only helps control the removal of forks, plates, bowls and cups, in a move to stem the tide of casual undergraduate larceny. Addition­ally, the lockdown includes bar­ring the double-doors that lead outside, blocking entry so that now the cafeteria space is only available to paying customers.

“Most students are lazy,” soph­omore Hannah Baylor said. “They don’t want to bring their plates back and forth, and even though that sucks, it’s also reasonable.”

The decision is a cost-control measure.

Every year, SNC Tahoe has to replace a plethora of plates, bowls, cups, mugs, and silver­ware. In the 2018-2019 school year alone, this amounted to $4,062.27. At the end of the year, the fines are split up among on-campus students, and everyone has to pay equally for the missing items. Students with a meal plan already pay $3,439 a semester for three meals a day.

“I got fined for the plates last year, but I barely took any back to my room with me,” Baylor said. “It just felt silly that everyone got charged when they could have just been brought back, or maybe had an area in the dorms where we could drop off the plates to be brought back to the kitchen.”

The cafeteria is run by Sodexo, a com­pany that contracts with SNC. Cashier Patrick Conrad has worked at the cafeteria for almost five years now, and over the years has seen all kinds of problems, like students coming through without scan­ning their cards. He empathizes with the decision to restrict access to the dining room.

“There doesn’t seem to be any other way,” Conrad said.

Many students are unhappy with the change.

Joao Mendez, a senior resident assis­tant, and cafeteria employee, feels that there are better ways to reduce the ram­pant loss of dinnerware and silverware.

“Last year we had a lot of plates that were stolen, and I work there, so I know how many plates we were losing, but I don’t think that’s the best way to avoid that,” he said. “Closing doors is not going to work. You can still open the doors from the inside, and people can still take their plates.”

The new arrangement creates a great deal of traffic in the lobby area as well, according to Mendez. “Everyone stands here in the front and waits to go in, and it puts everyone here, in front of us, still trying to sneak by food,” Mendez said. “We just need to keep the plates in here, but we don’t need to go to the level of locking students inside.”