A small Catholic-based community is the last place you would expect theft to happen. However, past our red doors at St. Edward’s University, lies a trail of robbery.
Food is being stolen from the campus dining halls every day, Michael Smith, general manager of Bon Appetit, said. Items taken range from things as small as Pop-Tarts to entire salads.
While it may not seem like a big deal in the bigger scheme of things, Smith believes it truly speaks to where our morals lie as a Catholic university. This is not to mention whether student’s money is being wasted on the lost revenue.
There is currently no concrete data about how much or what is stolen from the dining halls, let alone an estimation of whether it cumulatively makes a difference on the finances of the university.
Smith approximated about five to 10 items are stolen daily. However, with the range of choices and prices, this could amount to any monetary value.
The objects stolen are far and between, although the motivations for stealing seem to have a common ring to them: exorbitant prices and easy access. Expenses for food at St. Edward’s exceed what a person would ordinarily pay if they were to go to a local grocery chain.
Hilltop Views has granted anonymity to two students who have admitted to stealing from the dining halls in the past. The reason being is to give an accurate report on why food is being stolen.
Two anonymous students who had admitted to theft explained their experiences and motivation behind the act.
“I did it twice by accident, like literally just walked out and then I realized how easy it was,” anonymous student one said. “I don’t do it consistently, but some things are really overpriced. Cause it’s so insanely easy, it’s almost kind of fun.”
“[I steal] because I’m a commuter and I don’t get that much meal plan. Also food’s really expensive on campus and I already pay $40,000 to be here,” anonymous student two said. “[To deter theft, St. Edward’s should] make the prices cheaper or give you more food for what you pay for or make it better.”
In reaction to the dining hall’s exorbitant prices, dining hall staff argue that no matter the reason, it’s morally wrong, and students need to be responsible for their actions.
“I can see where they come from because we live so structured, like we’re kind of in a bubble, so we don’t really face the consequences of what we actually do,” said Fabian Zaldivar, a freshman student and Bon Appetit employee. “I just think it’s wrong to do, especially in a [community-based] school like this. People think it’s a victimless crime but it’s kind of like, we pay for this stuff, so somebody ends up getting screwed in the end.”
Smith agrees that this is more about the ethics and illegality of the issue, not just the money. It’s against the law, the code of conduct, the Ten Commandments and it’s just not right, he argues.
Smith believes that people who are low on meal plan can use other forms of payment such as cash, credit card or borrow money from their parents.
As for the lack of supervision, both employee and manager stand that there is rarely anyone away from the register and the only reason one would be away is to restock or retrieve an order.
People who are caught can expect a report to the police and a possible referral to the Dean of Students. Only repeat offenders are at risk for criminal prosecution, though Smith stresses that the goal is just to stop the theft, not prosecute students.