Co-ops Respond to CDS Theft Accusations
By Chris Morocco

The college’s revelation that Campus Dining Services loses $35,000 per year to theft and waste has provoked a flurry of finger-pointing and debates centered on who is to blame. Several students have argued that co-opers steal a disproportionate amount of the thousands of items that disappear each year.
“We do have our own dishes,” retorted college senior and Asia House member Rebecca Byard.
CDS manager Jack Cahill dismissed the idea that co-opers were any more responsible for theft than any other group on campus, and reinforced his position that publishing the figure of $35,000 was an attempt to raise awareness.
“We were hoping to get people to realize that it’s their money that is being wasted,” he explained.
It is hard to gauge what the significance of $35,000 is, as at the time of writing, CDS’s operating budget was undisclosed. Although many students would like to know what percentage of the budget $35,000 represents, some students have wondered whether the current debate has sidelined greater issues.
“Is $35,000 enough that is is worth this debate? It certainly doesn’t account for the hike in dining costs this year,” sophomore Tobias Smith, who also eats in a co-op, said.
Smith wrote a letter to last week’s Review in which he argued that the college’s use of CDS revenue for non-CDS expenses is a much more pertinent issue than ascertaining who is to blame for theft. He was extremely critical of the administration’s approach to raising dining plan costs, whereby students do not know if their money is being used for CDS or otherwise.
In addition, Smith reported that given that breakages and food waste were included in the figure of $35,000, it was not an accurate representation of loss due to theft.
The college can, nonetheless, use this figure as leverage whenever dining costs are protested.
“As long as people are stealing, the College can claim that theft is driving up costs,” he cautioned.
Co-opers gave conflicting opinions on the extent to which they can be blamed. Some expressed their observation that occasionally co-opers feel justified taking things because they rarely eat the weekly meal at CDS to which they are entitled, but few mentioned taking anything but food, fruit in particular.
Others were adamant that they are no more to blame for theft than students in CDS.
OSCA treasurer, Senior Katie Shilton, knows first-hand the amount that each co-op spends on non-food items, sums that can reach up to $4,500 per semester, as in the case of Asia House.
Shilton dismissed the notion that co-opers must steal in order to have adequate supplies.
“Stealing things like plates doesn’t really make financial sense, considering that plates are not an expensive item. The things that are expensive are pots and pans, and nobody is stealing pots and pans,” she said.
Having virtually no security, co-ops have an even harder time hanging onto their dining ware than CDS does. Nearly every semester, co-ops spend large portions of their nonfoods budgets just to replace items that are stolen. This semester, Asia House bought 100 each of plates, cups, and spoons, as DLEC Isabel Call reported.
Shilton admitted that some co-opers try to get “their $8 worth” when they go to Stevenson, but that students who live off campus are at least equally to blame for dining ware predations.
Responding to the suggestion that in the past stealing from CDS had been an unofficial co-op policy, if not at the suggestion of DLECs, then as a response to pleas for more forks, Shilton countered, “If you go to any off campus house you will see that they are stocked with CDS dishes... It has been an unofficial off campus policy in the past, as far as I can tell. It is just as not okay as co-opers doing it.”
Thus far, most of the accusations against co-opers have been conjecture, and CDS is far from being on the warpath against whomever the guilty parties are.
CDS manager Jack Cahill made no mention of searching through co-ops to ascertain if CDS property was present. The response so far has been to remind students that they will face J-board if caught stealing.
College students now face the choice of either continuing to wrangle over who is responsible for thefts that affect them all, or running home to ditch their own illicit flatware.

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