Apparently drinking cups cannot be counted among the comforters, computers, and other accoutrements of domestic life that Brown students bring to campus to stock their dorm rooms. But a lack of libational planning hasn’t been a problem for some enterprising—or larcenous—students who have turned to the Verney-Wooley Dining Hall to fill this hole in their service sets. In the first forty-three days of the dining hall’s operation last semester—and following a six-month, $3 million renovation (see “Chez V-Dub,” Elms, November/December)—1,300 of the eatery’s new, bright sixteen-ounce plastic cups disappeared. “That’s thirty cups a day,” says University Food Services associate director Virginia Dunleavy. “That’s a lot of people sticking cups in their backpacks.” At $1.42 apiece, that is also more than $1,800 in plastic.
Stealing from dining halls is not a new phenomenon. Food, napkin holders, salt shakers, and pepper shakers are all popular with plundering students. Even such high-ticket items as couches from the Gate and televisions from Josiah’s have fallen prey to thieves. But Dunleavy says the copping of cups is different because of its scope.
So far students have ignored a plea to return the pilfered cups, although thirty were recovered in an “amnesty box” placed outside the V-Dub. Dunleavy says the eatery has ordered replacements, but she says that if those disappear the dining hall will switch to smaller cups, like the glorified shot glasses used at the Sharpe Refectory. “The thing is, I really like the larger cup,” Dunleavy says, “I’m like the kids.… But if [the theft] continues at this rate, the choice will be made for us.”