Three years ago, CUT players received a concerned email from LDC sous chef Gibson Price regarding the frequency with which CUT players were sneaking into the dining hall.
In response, then-captain Alex Evangelides ’11 replied, “For you to expect me to police my teammates, and further to hold my team responsible for the act of individuals is a ridiculous expectation. It is also the case that many Carleton students not on our team own CUT jerseys. I will not be policing them either.”
Despite efforts by Bon Appétit workers and student managers, as well as the presence of locked exit doors and video cameras, students regularly bypass the swipe system and violate Bon Appétit’s takeout policies.
Last academic year, there were six incidents of sneaking into the dining halls and stealing food that were referred to the Dean of Students Office, according to Dean of Students Hudlin Wagner. The number of students who violate these two policies is likely higher because students are referred to the Dean only after being caught multiple times.
For instance, current CUT captain Simon Johansen ’14 has never been caught sneaking into the dining hall or stealing food, even though he claimed to have snuck into the dining hall between five and ten times. He also said that when he was on the plan, he would violate Bon Appétit’s takeout policy multiple times per week.
Johansen believes that people sneak into the dining halls because they forget their OneCard, are on the 12-meal plan and are out of meals, or are off-board. Johansen does not find these reasons to be problematic. “Everything at Carleton is already way too expensive, so why should I feel bad about getting a free meal here and there? It’s not like Bon Appétit is going bankrupt,” Johansen said.
“On top of that, dinner costs like $12,” Johansen continued. “There is no way that when I sneak in, someone who is in charge of accounting at Bon Appétit is like, ‘Welp, we lost another $12 today; someone must have snuck in.’”
However, Eric Raussman, Director of Operations for Bon Appétit, made it clear that sneaking into the dining halls and stealing food always costs Bon Appétit because Carleton pays a percentage of tuition for room and board to Bon Appétit based on the number of students who swiped in for each meal during a given week.
If enough people eat meals without swiping in or if enough people take out more food than is allowed, Bon Appétit has to start providing more food per student, increasing the meal plan cost.
In order to prevent students from eating for free, Bon Appétit workers watch for people sneaking into the dining halls, but there still exist multiple opportunities for students to sneak in and steal food: no designated staff member operates the exit doors, students can bring in their backpacks, and each dining hall contains several points of entry and exit.
Dan Berguson, Director of Auxiliary Services, said that he has tried to both minimize violations of Bon Appétit’s policies and prevent the meal plan from becoming more expensive. “I always tell Bon Appétit workers that it is okay to tell students to stop. They could be a bit more assertive,” he said. “Bon Appetit has issues because they want good customer service and they want to prevent sneakers.”
Similarly, Student Manager Lucas Morrill ’14 sees no reason not to prevent students from sneaking and from stealing. “When people take more food out of the dining hall than they are supposed to, they are often doing that in order to get enough food to skip another meal or to avoid having to buy a snack later at Sayles,” said Morrill.
As a result, Morrill believes Bon Appétit could create policies to alleviate the sneaking and stealing problems. He suggested that Carleton could adopt policies similar to St. Olaf by having a no-backpack rule and by having a designated staff person at the exits to make sure people do not take out extra food.
In the end, he said sneaking into the dining halls and stealing food is a non-issue because “yes, I do think that students should have to pay for every meal that they eat.”