Missing Plates, Cups and Cutlery Cost Uncommons

If the trend of disappearing plates at Uncommons ends, students may discover the reward is sweeter than a life of petty crime. Mike Giampa, Uncommons Manager, recently sent out an all-school email warning that Uncommons is facing a major shortage of plates, cups and utensils. Giampa said that Uncommons would not have any financial difficulty paying for new dining-ware, because they have a replacement fund built into their budget, but said, “If we had to replace less things, we could use the extra money to enhance the program, including organic food or higher quality entrees.” According to Giampa, after Summer Session ended, Uncommons conducted an inventory of its colored plates. Counting approximately 1,000 plates, they decided to purchase an additional 400. “However,” Giampa said, “it became apparent after the first two or three days that Uncommons was running out of plates every day.” After a second inventory check during the first week of school, Giampa said that Uncommons was back down to 1,000 melamine plates. In addition, the dishwashers at Uncommons have been unable to keep up with the volume of plates it needs to wash, thus also contributing to the lack of usable plates. “The dishwashers were not made for the capacity we’re pushing through,” said Giampa. Because of the shortage of melamine plates, Uncommons has been forced to resort to using the white, china plates again. According to Giampa, the advantage of using melamine plates over the china plates is that the melamine plates are more durable when dropped. Uncommons would prefer not to resort to paper bowls and plastic utensils, because they are not “environmentally sound,” said Giampa. Giampa added that there has been a shortage of cups in Uncommons even after purchasing 864 new cups. Lack of trays has not been a problem. Giampa said that he believes people pressed for time often walk out of Uncommons with a glass of juice, a plate, or a tray and leave it at their dorm or office. Stevie Xenakis ’10 said that he occasionally takes utensils from Uncommons, but that he normally returns them. Last week, Stevie took a mug because he was “too lazy to put [his] tea in a cup,” but left it at the library since it was too inconvenient to bring back to Uncommons. Giampa said that Uncommons has been considering adding boxes to places such as GW for returning dining supplies. “I understand that [Uncommons is] farther away. The community has less free time and is more inclined to take a drink, or a cup of cereal,” said Giampa, “We understand. We just want to get it back when they are done.” Karl Hardin ’11 said that last winter, he and his French House dormmates took several trays from Uncommons to use as sleds. Hardin said that he thought it was permissible to take the materials from Uncommons because he only considered it borrowing. “It’s OK if you’re going to bring [the Uncommons supplies] back,” said Hardin. In addition, Hardin said that students in his dorm took utensils and even salt shakers because they were not made available in his dorm. Hardin said, “We had our own dinner table’s worth of stuff.” Giampa said, “Dorm counselors are more than welcome to order any utensils and plastic-ware they might need.” He added that it makes sense within the fourth meal program. Hardin said that his dorm finally returned the supplies during the Uncommons’ cluster contest to return materials. Giampa said Uncommons will “absolutely” hold a similar contest this year, and that he would appreciate any ideas from members of the community. When asked how Uncommons could try and reduce the supply shortage, Giampa said, “A big help would be if the community would try to use one plate per meal. People always take a knife, a fork and a spoon for meal, but it would be more efficient if you take only what you use.”