College students can be incredibly creative when it comes to finding ways to save money.
Take the students who use Bostwick Marketplace’s “Take-Out” program as an example. The program allows students to substitute one of their meals inside the cafeteria for a to-go meal.
Students are given two plastic containers to carry food, a cup for a drink, a plastic container for soup (by request), utensils and a bag to carry their neatly packaged meal out of the cafeteria.
The program is intended to help students who are too busy to stop and eat during the day from missing out on important meals.
Students quickly discovered ways to use the program other than the way it was intended.
Some people totally pack the containers with deli meat, grab a couple of slices of bread, and take out enough supplies to make sandwiches for the next week.
Others have filled entire containers with cookies or pies and turned their to-go meal into a colossal dessert. Another common use of take-out drink cups is getting supplies for making mixed drinks over the weekend, like Hawaiian Punch or orange juice.
In response to the abuse of their system, Parkhurst shrank the size of the largest take-out container, so that less food will fit into it. Students who frequently get meals to-go reacted with shock and outrage.
Does changing the size of the containers solve the problem at all?
Many students passionately cling to the belief that Parkhurst charges way too much for its dining services on campus, and that anyone with an unlimited-swipe meal plan has the right to take as much food as possible to get their money’s worth.
Making the take-out containers smaller is not likely to deter these students.
Changing the size of the to-go containers is merely frustrating for those students who use the take-out program as it is intended; for anyone with a hearty appetite, fitting an entire meal into the smaller containers is a challenge. It is frustrating to see situations like this, where the group as a whole is punished for the actions of the few.