Dining Commons experiences a dis(h)appearing act

Graphic by Kinsey Couture ’22

Graphic by Kinsey Couture ’22


Over $15,000 worth of dishes have reportedly been stolen from the Mount Holyoke Dining Commons this semester.

Richard Perna, Director of Dining Services, said that the Dining Commons has lost $15,333 worth of dishes and another $1,500 in silverware, coming to a total loss of $16,833. Prices of Blanchard’s dishes range from as low as $.95 for a cup to $7.79 for an entree plate, like those stocked at the Classics and Grill stations.

“In recent weeks we have noticed the inventory starting to dwindle down,” said Perna. “We took inventory and found that we were missing 3,450 dishes.”

When Perna realized the severity of the issue, he said he initially wanted to find a solution that would bring as much dishware as possible back to the Commons. “The best way to do it is by educating everyone on what’s happening in hopes that the dishes will return soon,” he said.

Zoe Brown ’21, Chair of Student Organizations, is a part of the recently formed senate working group focusing on dining services. Brown said that while she was disappointed when she heard the amount of missing dishware, she was not surprised. “Especially considering how chaotic the dining room is, I completely understand anyone needing to get away to eat their meal, but I don’t understand why students don’t simply return the dishes later.” She said she hopes Dining Services can implement a to-go system for a better method of taking food outside the Dining Commons.

While Brown admits that she has taken dishes out of the Dining Commons to escape the noise and its hectic meal rushes, she said she always returns them. “Keeping campus clean and holding yourself accountable for stolen goods is a part of being a positive member of our community,” she said.

While for some, taking dishes out of the Dining Commons is a way to avoid crowds during peak hours and opt for a calmer dining experience elsewhere, other students seem to be taking the dishes for personal use. Some signature Blanchard dishes and silverware linger in dorm common rooms and Golden Pears. Mariana Clark ’20 said she once saw someone bring a paper bag into the Dining Commons and load it with plates and bowls to take outside of the Dining Hall.

Generally, the Dining Commons seem to retain enough dishes to function throughout their regular service, but sometimes meal rushes can complicate this. For example, during peak breakfast hours, around 9 a.m. on weekdays, the Dining Commons occasionally run out of mugs. This leaves paper cups as the only remaining vessels for coffee and tea. Each grey mug costs the Dining Commons $4.49.

The Oct. 26 edition of Dean’s Corner, the weekly newsletter from Dean of Students Marcella Runell Hall, reminded students of the issue. “Please do not take dishes or utensils outside of the Dining Commons,” the email read. “They are expensive to replace and impact the overall cost of the meal plan for all students.”

Brown thought about the upwards of $20,000 Dining Services will have to spend to have enough dishes for their regular operations, a cost not previously included in the department’s budget. “It’s a loss that is felt by anyone who contributes to this school,” she said. “Especially those who pay tuition.”