Posts Tagged 'Social Life'

Work Hard, Play Hard, Enjoy Neither

Si Rutherford

Apparently, for prospective students, Middlebury is presented as a ‘work hard, play hard’ institution. We know what this means: there is a near-overwhelming amount of reading assigned every week for the majority of classes, and if students are expected to maintain a hold on their studies, they must dedicate a significant amount of time to this pursuit. When the weekend hits, therefore, students let themselves ‘play’ in an equally intense fashion in the short space of time that they are allowed. From a personal perspective, striving for real conversation in an environment that is seemingly not conducive to such a thing has helped me start to develop an understanding of Middlebury College. I want to learn something new from everyone I meet, but most importantly, I want to know whether students here are genuinely happy at Middlebury College – especially with regards to the philosophy of “work hard, play hard.”

First of all, let me say this: Middlebury students are brilliant. They are talented, intelligent, healthy, and full of potential. Unfortunately, this potential is rarely achieved, and it could be argued that the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is to blame. A conversation I once had with a sharp-minded senior highlighted this issue. I was told how often she has heard students make incredibly insightful and remarkably intellectual comments in class, but then as soon as they leave the classroom environment they talk about lowest-common-denominator issues such as partying.

How many lunch-time conversations have been continuations of a discussion regarding the merits of existentialist philosophies, or environmental challenges? How many new friendships are forged because of stimulating dialogue about the possibilities of social change? The unfortunate fact is that there are few incentives for students to engage in extra-curricular intellectual activity; academic studies are made systematic, time-consuming and unrewarding, and students are pushed to the limit throughout the year. If a Midd Kid has 200 pages of literature coupled with two chapters of biochemistry reading to do for the next morning, it is unsurprising that little intellectual satisfaction is achieved from overcoming such a menacing obstacle. Finishing at 3:30 am only brings relief at the eventual promise of sleep, rather than deep reflections on the previously undiscovered viewpoints that the individual has absorbed. We should be able to enjoy the things we study; we should be appreciating and recognizing the things we are learning.

Middlebury College has some astonishingly sharp minds leading its faculty, so surely this valuable resource should be harnessed for all of its worth. Ultimately, my argument comes down to this: There needs to be more time for free intellectual development – for the sake of the sanity and general humanity of the young adults attending this institution. Perhaps this is just my personal opinion, but I do not think a liberal arts college, or university, or any academic institution should merely be a vehicle for turning each student into a machine.

In actual fact, Middlebury College life in general is very systematic, not only in the educational sphere, but in the social sphere as well. We party like machines when the weekend comes, maximizing the precious time we have by getting as far away from the intense work-oriented week as possible, and we do this the way we are told is best – through alcohol. Whether one supports the party scene or not, it is not difficult to understand it. Nevertheless, it is a dangerous game to be playing, sometimes involving frightening amounts of alcohol use and behavior that could not even be conceived of outside of a college campus. A Middlebury student disappeared – and if the rumors are true, drinking played a hand in the events surrounding it. But has it burst the bubble? Apparently not. We are all safe little creatures that wake and read and nap and eat and consume and forget and do it all over again.

The mechanical nature of on-campus activities can be witnessed in hobbies and interests that lie in between the realms of academic work and partying. This is most obvious within sports, but also seen in other activities such as music groups, theatre, dance, etc. It is difficult to truly enjoy the activities we have chosen to participate in when most conversations will sooner or later involve the phrase “I have so much work to do.” Every night is a consideration of what can be achieved in the hour between the gym and dinner, or before we have to begin the paper that will take us to the early hours of the morning.

Extending the arguments further, it is worth considering the ongoing discussion (largely criticism) of the dating scene on campus, and how the consensus is that it is effectively just a hook-up scene. One could argue that this is just another product of the Midd machine. In between juggling an enormous amount of reading, going to dance rehearsals, attending guest lectures, and finally making it to the Tavern party, how can we possibly fit in time for dating? So we don’t. Dating becomes just another systematized part of the social life; because Midd kids have no time to get to know one another and form the foundations for a meaningful relationship, they hook up when they are drunk on a Friday or Saturday night. Even the sex here is systematic.

Undoubtedly, this is a quintessentially American phenomenon, driven by the ideals of individualism and efficiency. These sentiments inevitably have consequences for the activities that go on within the confines of Middlebury and how the people here experience them. What is clear is that there is an obvious cause and effect on display: work hard = play hard. Of course, this is not a new revelation, but for Middlebury students it has important implications. For these talented, intelligent students, it is a virtually inescapable pattern, and one that cannot lead to a truly fulfilled college experience. It is important to understand, however, that all aspects of campus life are inexorably intertwined. We cannot criticize and wish to change the limited social scene without addressing the demanding realities of academic work. Studying has ceased to be a source of personal development, and is instead a means of achieving the ends (whether that is an A grade or a good career). Time socializing on the weekends is focused more on breaking free of the mechanical schedule, rather than embracing a meaningful and fulfilling interaction with peers. Ironically, getting drunk on a Friday night is in fact just as much part of the machinery of a Midd student as the homework, and this fact bluntly presents an issue worth taking note of: when even the partying is systematic, there is something fundamentally disturbing going on.

So we return to the initial concern: are students at Middlebury College genuinely happy? Obviously, this is not a question easily answered. I just hope that we are not merely undertaking a four year exercise in time management, and that we will emerge at the end as more than mere machines that will fit perfectly into society. We are creative, intellectual beings, and should have more time and space to develop as such. The sooner that Middlebury recognizes this fact, the sooner the College can provide future students with a more desirable and fulfilling college experience.

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Practice Rooms and Priorities

Tristan Axelrod

Middlebury deserves a pat on the back for the magnificent party held on March 6 in celebration of the naming of the Center for the Arts. Kudos to them, and kudos to Kevin Mahaney for supporting the arts at Middlebury. The food and music were great. Par for the course for the Administration’s CFA soirees.

I hope I’m not the only one struck by the irony of the situation. Was it a great celebration of the arts? If you’re a fan of Market Zero, sure, but there’s something sad about celebrating the arts in a building with few practical capabilities for teaching, producing, or practicing art. With its 100-ft. high leaky ceilings and handful of angular offices and classrooms, the CFA seems to have been designed less for music, dance, and theater, and more for fundraising.

The college has been expanding the music program, as it should, considering the drastic difference in quality between, for instance, Sound Investment (Middlebury’s music fundraising group) and similar organizations at Williams, Amherst, Harvard, etc. In the past decade several faculty positions have been created (Profs. Hamlin, Hamberlin, and Buettner), with more on the way (Forman, an ethnomusicology chair). Funding for the orchestra and Sound Investment has increased, and opportunities for electronic musical endeavors and on-campus performances have increased as well, due to support from the administration as well as student groups such as MMG and MCAB.

The building simply can’t keep pace. The administration knows this—from the CFA, it learned a lesson on program-oriented construction, and the awesome capabilities of Bicentennial Hall testify to the practical approach later adapted. But now, the college is moving too slowly to accommodate the musical growth it has initiated. There are only eight practice rooms in the CFA, give or take performance spaces and the elevator, that are supposed to suffice for hundreds of orchestra and jazz band members, music students, and the rest of the students, faculty, and staff musicians, all of whom are entitled to the use of college facilities. Due to the number of instrumental lessons, finding practice space between 9 am and 4:30 pm is next to impossible, which means all the people taking lessons must compete for whatever evening practice time they can find, often being forced to choose between music and other activities that tend to go on at the same time. And of course, the noise from all of the badly soundproofed rooms is distracting for students, a fact that deters the study of rock, jazz, and other percussion-based music. But frequently, there’s just nowhere to practice. Can you imagine a member of the varsity hockey team unable to use any of the athletic facilities?

Nobody really disputes the practical deficiencies of the CFA. Unfortunately, it has been built and dedicated and we’re stuck with it. However, the practice room situation could be improved, and doing so would raise Middlebury’s musical program and culture to a level commensurate with its academic status. The process has already started with several rooms from the-building-formerly-known-as-The-Mill being donated for rehearsal space, and it can continue. The Mill is a good start, but it’s very far away and there won’t be room for pianos; plus, with other students living in close proximity, noise will be a problem.

The solution seems simple: why not similarly re-dedicate rooms in more buildings across campus, with well-tuned pianos and as much privacy as possible? Coltrane, Ross, Forest, and the Chateau already have pianos, minus the tuning and the privacy. But there are similar and more secluded rooms in Ross, Gifford, Battell, and elsewhere on campus. If two or three more buildings had at least two practice rooms, students could feel comfortable making the trip to another building fairly certain that they wouldn’t be pre-empted by another group or student musician. As the college recruits more and better musicians who have more time and better circumstances in which to practice, we might see some really high quality music and we’d definitely see a more culturally sophisticated student body that would continue to push the college to reassess its priorities.

Hurt Feelings, Inflated Egos & General Nonsense

Ann Garcia

In the spirit of this magazine, I’d like to debate debate. Anonymous debate, that is. Much to the dismay of Facebook, the Middlebury study break website of choice changed in late April, as thousands of students browsed and posted anonymous remarks on Middlebury Confessional. Though the web site’s intent, as stated by its creator Shibo Xu, is to promote discussion on “controversial issues, such as race, sexual abuse or any other taboo,” it is by and large a series of slanderous, inflammatory or untruthful threads. In short, I am not a fan, and here is why.

When I graduate, I will treasure my memories of the gorgeous campus, and even those ugly fluorescent shades that the commons like to spend their money on, and other small details. Yet most of all, I will cherish the many conversations that I have had with friends and strangers. I will miss the Middlebury which has taught me to ask that girl across the table what she has put in her pasta because it looks delicious (pesto, cheese and basil), and to explain to someone in an a cappella group why I don’t think it’s right for them to partake in certain traditional initiation ceremonies. I enjoy having these talks and think they are an integral part of our education, but only if we are in full knowledge of who we are conversing with, and not hiding behind our computer screens.

I sincerely believe there is not a single issue one might wish to confront on this campus that they cannot sit down and talk about. Furthermore, the value of the conversation will be much higher than one in which “The Dinosaur” makes five mysterious appearances.

This site will not resolve whatever communication problems we may have on our campus; if anything, it will create hurt feelings, inflated egos, and nonsense. So, sit down and talk about it. I promise that if you have enough time to browse this site, you have enough time to stick around longer for a post-dinner chat. And please, do not post a thread to discuss this article. If you have any remarks, please, just come talk to me. Let’s put a rest to anonymous bashing and return to the old face-to-face approach.

Disclaimer: Sorry, girl on Confessional with that tampon issue, but just to be clear, this is not an invitation for private instruction.

Dining Hall Etiquette 101

Tristan Axelrod

Considering that roughly 2000 people live and eat together here at Middlebury, I would say that the dining halls are run remarkably well. Especially compared to other schools, which for the most part employ companies such as Marriot and Halliburton to cater food on a daily basis, Middlebury provides very high quality meals that accommodate everybody, including vegetarians, athletes, those of us with dietary restrictions, and even the many picky eaters. Although budget cuts have led to an indisputable decrease in quality over the past few years, one has a hard time making the case that Middlebury students are ill-treated. It would behoove us to appreciate our fortune with grace and consideration for each other and those employed to serve us. Here a few problematic issues on which we might improve.

1) Whining. While Middlebury is certainly expensive, our flat rate tuition guarantees more food than almost any other institution in the country. There is a process for registering complaints—the forms at every dining hall entrance—and the dining hall staff are extremely thoughtful and thorough with their responses to all inquiries, complaints, and compliments. Let’s not contribute to the general inanity of student publications by expounding about the lack of juice at dinner.

2) Stealing dishes. I used to wonder who it was that was stealing all the dishes: I was mystified by all the emails and discussion because I couldn’t understand why people would be so inconsiderate. Then earlier this year, living in Forest, I finally saw it: people carrying their Ross dishes to their room, eating by themselves, and leaving the dishes in the bathroom or, far worse, in the stairwell. Why would you do that? You took it, you bring it back. We’re costing the college tens of thousands of dollars every year because we’re lazy assholes. Seriously?

3) Improper use of serving utensils. Serving spoons, ladles, knives, etc. are for one use: transferring food from a large dish to a small one. There are two common misuses of serving utensils that we see all the time.
• The first is spreading or smoothing with a serving knife, e.g. cream cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. When you spread your cream cheese with the serving knife, you force everyone else to wait for you (especially if you stand in front of the bar so nobody can reach the peanut butter, jam, etc.), and you get crumbs all over the knife and, immediately afterwards, the cream cheese bin. This is unsanitary (not to mention unsightly), so the knife has to be cleaned and replaced. If instead you were to scoop some cream cheese on the side of your plate while you wait for your bagel to toast, you could then spread it at the right time (with your own knife) without inconveniencing anyone.
• The second misuse is picking out just the food you want from a large dish. If you don’t want the cherry tomatoes, pick them out with your fork after serving them. You save everyone in line the infuriation of standing hungrily and watching as you perpetrate your pickiness on them, waiting for their portion of a salad now disproportionately loaded with cherry tomatoes. Or, in the opposite case, you could save us from a bowl of wings minus the drumsticks, stir-fry without the chicken, etc. You also spare the cooking staff the insult of your disgust.

4) Lining up at the beverage trough. There is nothing more aggravating than waiting for water while someone loads three nalgenes with pepsi because they’re too cheap and lazy to pay $1.29 for a 2-liter bottle at Shaw’s. Or waiting five minutes for barbeque wings only to watch the last 24 of them disappear onto the plate of the guy in front of you. It’s inconsiderate, not to mention disgusting and usually unhealthy. If only one dish in the entire dining hall appeals to you, chances are you aren’t the only one for whom this is the case, so save some for everyone else. You could even try a strange new dish, try another dining hall, and/or politely inform the staff of your affinity for the wings (or whatever) and displeasure with other dishes.

5) Inappropriate social behavior. We don’t need yet another ‘dining halls are segregated, we should all smile at each other and sit with random strangers all the time’ article; for the most part those are complete crap and we all know it. However, there’s something to be said for being polite to others: more specifically, being kind and considerate to other students and to staff. In the case of the latter, we need to be aware of the difficulties and complexities of working at a dining hall—serving students with varying needs, financial and cultural backgrounds, odd hours, and let’s not forget the obvious class-cultural issues between staff and students—and respect both the efforts of the staff and their appreciation of feedback. As far as students go, there are a number of simple social rules that require more thought in a dining hall situation: respecting personal space and food preferences (i.e. keeping room in the line and not commenting on food choices) and respecting privacy (i.e. not hitting on others or loudly discussing one’s sexual exploits), for starters.

In general, the dining hall experience could be more positive for everyone at the college if we all just take the time to think about our actions and show more concern for staff and students.

What is the Value of Diversity?

Mike Waters

What good is Middlebury’s pursuit of a more diverse campus? Sure, we can all agree on the various merits of diversity both in life and in the academic experience. Diversity enriches us, with its multiplicity of opinion and experience. In addition, its direct pursuit brings people together that otherwise would never have met. These are good things, and by all means, diversity is something we all should look to foster in our lives, but as for the question of what diversity contributes to Middlebury, can we all be so sure that it is valuable? How does diversity translate into a payoff on the investment we all make when we go here?

Now, I’m no economist – and quite frankly, I think that people who measure everything in dollars and cents are the cause of many of our problems these days – but to play devil’s advocate: the encouragement of diversity at Middlebury is a bad economic decision for both the college and its students, for a variety of reasons.

Let’s assume, like an economist (wrongly) that everyone’s goal in life is to make as much money as possible. Middlebury, in that sense, is an investment – one that will reap rewards via more opportunities, better jobs, and ultimately, more money. Clearly the goal of being here, then, is to secure for us that extra advantage, that leg up that will get us the corner office and the big salary. Middlebury’s name alone assures some level of success, but there is more that contributes to our future economic well-being besides the look on prospective employers’ faces when they see where we went to school.

Middlebury is all about connections. We have a terrific alumni network, and our alums have gone on to do a host of interesting things. Many are remarkably successful. They achieved success in the usual ways – intelligence, hard work, etc. – but clearly many of them also benefited from the connections they made at Middlebury. So while “Middlebury” printed in bold at the top of a resume might help in landing a job, it’s even more effective when the person across the desk went here, too. Which brings me back to diversity.

The stated goal of increasing diversity is to bring together more individuals of different social, economic, and racial backgrounds. So while we still maintain a good number of students from our core demographic – rich, white, sweet laxers – we also throw in students who are considerably less privileged. Maybe they’re poor, maybe they’re the first in their family to go to college, or maybe they’re from another country, but what we can be sure of is that none of their parents are the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Clearly this degrades the value of our education. Who is to help us get our foot in the door after graduation if we are suddenly starved for the wealthy, well-educated elites that we have attracted for years?

To this I propose a solution – a new set of recommendations to make sure that we all get the highest return on our $200,000 after graduation (because that, after all, is what it’s all about). Fuck diversity. Who needs it? I may be boring, ignorant, and spoiled, but inside the walls of my McMansion I am all that is Man. Perhaps I’ve never heard an opposing viewpoint or befriended someone of a different skin color (besides Jose, our gardener, or Fabricia, our maid) or discovered that there is something out there besides my stock portfolio and my trophy wife, but damn am I rich. I’ve won. We have won. We went to Middlebury, and it was worth it. My parents might have bought me a Toyota instead of a Mercedes to save money for college, but look at me now: who needs cars when you can just pay people to carry you around?

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, all this and more can be ours – all we have to do is give up this tired “diversity” experiment, and go back to doing what we do best. Lets increase our recruiting in Greenwich and the rest of the tri-state area. For a little variety, let’s make sure we take a couple from just outside Boston.

The blonde lacrosse player? She’s in.
The tall, handsome prep-schooler? Give him a slot.
The son of an investment banker? He’s in, as long as he brings an extra pair of madras shorts – I lost mine.

Think of the dividends they’ll pay! Money for that Proctor renovation? Got it. Wall Street internships for all our econ majors? A done deal. Paying off the debt for the new logo that the college abandoned? It’s in the bag. And of course, the value of a Middlebury education continues to grow. With connections like these, who needs school in the first place?

In conclusion, a quick message to our friends in the admissions office: let diversity go. Let’s pursue that rosy reality I just described. No one needs the stimulation (read: challenge) of diversity. We’d be much happier if we were all the same. And Diversity never got anyone that cushy job or that house in the right neighborhood, but you can bet your hot secretary that Connections did. Diversity might be nice, in theory, but the bottom line is my bottom line. After all, as far as most Midd students are concerned, if it can’t be measured in dollars, then it doesn’t make cents.

Dangerous “Confessions”

Ceara Danaher

Middlebury has been infected once again. We couldn’t stop with Facebook. Yet another form of electronic entertainment, a new method to needlessly eat away at the hours, has been birthed in the form of Middlebury Confessional.

The website has been introduced to our student body by some ingenious and possibly sadistic Oberlin student. It is owned by a corporation called Wilder Bowl, LLC, that appears to know exactly how to feed on our vulnerabilities. It is a hub of gossip, all supposedly contained within our little collegiate community, that functions on anonymity. And therein lies its danger.

The potential for this endeavor to go wrong is glaring. People already disclaim Middlebury students as being overly gossipy and judgmental. Combine these qualities with the ceaseless pressures of life here, the constant oppression of political correctness, and the allure of distractions from academics. You have Middlebury Confessional. To top off all of the apparent benefits of this website, there is the factor of anonymity. Students accustomed to guarding their thoughts, operating on politeness and within strict social confines suddenly have the ability to voice their every whim, with no repercussions or regulations.

One would like to think that Middlebury students have more respect for their friends and themselves than to give in to such a vehicle. But, as recent news about the Honor Code has evidenced, we are not always as moral here as we might believe. There are already indications that the site is headed south.

“This website shows how much we all actually hate each other. Ah, human nature,” reads one foreboding post. In many ways, it’s right. The site’s Terms of Use insist that hurtful messages or individual’s names are not allowed in posts. The consequences of breaking the rules appear to be that the posts will be deleted . . . eventually. The site’s moderator, an Oberlin senior, wrote an apology for not removing posts quickly. “It’s always kinda hard on the weekends, but I usually get to removing posts at least once a day” he says. Personally, I find this type of lackadaisical attitude appalling. If someone is going to introduce a time bomb like this into our community, they need to handle it appropriately. Especially when we, unfortunately, cannot.

Despite the site’s guidelines, people frequently write out full names of their peers or create posts that are vindictive, even cruel. It’s as though our classmates have been transported back to vicious middle school locker room mentalities, but with an additional decade of knowledge to use as ammunition.

One of the scariest elements of Middlebury Confessional is that it cannot be known who or what is real. It would be possible for a single person to essentially sever good feelings in our community by manipulating posts and prompting angry feelings. And— for another unwanted dose of reality— it is worth recognizing that as much as we’d like to think that Middlebury students are the only people tapping into this website, that is just not true. The potential for harm is so great, is it worth it to even maintain this website as a source of distraction and amusement?

I’ll admit, the possibility of the web site doing good things does exist. Middlebury Confessional could function as an interactive version of Xander Manshel’s PostSecret Project. It has the ability to connect people who believe themselves isolated, to raise awareness, to provoke thinking, to provide support, and to encourage creativity. In some instances, it can simply insert humor into our lives. Perhaps it is the type of alternative, imaginative, releasing forum that our over-worked, socially-stifled, student body needs.

Or, if my instincts are correct, it could go very wrong and divide us further apart than we already are. Self-consciousness, paranoia, and rampant, uncensored judgments are not emotions that we need more of here. With Middlebury Confessional, that is exactly what we’re inviting.

Give Us Our Dining Trays!

Hamza Usmani

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The September 26th issue of The Middlebury Campus ran a story on the decision of Dining Services to remove trays from the dining halls. In that article, they quoted Mathew Biette, the head of dining services, as saying that the decision to take out the trays was made ‘swiftly’ because some students told him that if he put the decision up for discussion, it would never be implemented. Well, that’s obvious.

Dining Services is not exactly a corporation—and hence their primary objective should not be profit maximization. They are service providers, and their main aim should be to provide the best possible service to their patrons.

If we don’t take drastic steps to save the environment, we will regret our inaction in the future. However, environmental action needs to be done intelligently. It is very easy to propose that cars should be banned because they produce pollution, but it takes some creativity and intelligence to figure out a way to save the environment while also not destroying people’s lifestyle by denying them their basic means of transportation. If we make a list of things that produce pollution, we’d never be able to stop. Even the computer that I’m using right now produces pollution. But would I do away with it in order to help the environment? No, because it creates a very insignificant amount of pollution, and removing it would seriously impair my lifestyle.

If the dining service honchos claim that removing trays from dining halls is going to help the environment, they need to prove it. Please don’t tell me that the math they have presented qualifies as proof. In fact, I would think of this as an insult to the Middlebury College students. If they are listing reasons like ‘removing trays would reduce water spillage in the kitchen and less people would fall’ it just means that they themselves are not convinced about the strength of their basic reason to take the trays out. If they are so convinced, they should be willing to answer our questions.

There has been some whispering going on that the real reason to remove trays from the dining halls was to cut costs, and environmental sustainability was used as a cover because we all know it is not “in fashion” to question anything environmental. If this indeed is true, I’d say the Dining Services played their game really poorly. By using environmentalism as a cover-up, they not only put their own credibility at stake but also potentially tarnished the integrity of the environmental cause. If Dining Services were low on budget and they were finding it hard to run the operation with the amount of funding that they had, they should have taken the students into confidence about that. The students, who are interested in having a good dining experience, and who pay a college fee which increases by $2000-$2500 every year would definitely have raised their voices to help the dining services.

Consider this: a regular student who paid a $44,000 comprehensive fee last year was presented with a dining service that offered trays. The same student, after paying $46,910 this year, is now getting a dining experience without trays. If that student comes to know that despite him or his parents paying a higher fee this year, the college dining services is having financial problems, he would want to do something about that because he’d be concerned.

Here I need to reiterate why Dining Services have less of a right to remove trays from dining halls than they think they have. Fortunately or unfortunately, if one is living on campus it is impossible to opt out of the meal-plan. In other words, Dining halls are a student’s primary source of food. Yet another way to phrase this would be saying that students are stuck with the dining halls. So given this, if the dining halls decide to remove a service that students were enjoying before, the students cannot just act like ‘consumers’ in a market economy—they can’t just boycott eating at the dining halls and look for alternatives. This is the reason why I said earlier that dining halls are not commercial enterprises but are rather service providers. They are here to serve the student body, and all their actions—whether aimed at cutting costs or benefiting the environment—need to be sanctioned by the students. Otherwise it would essentially be a breach of contract.

I personally tried to contact the dining managers and ask them the rationale for removing trays. Unfortunately, the crux of the response that I got was that the decision to remove trays was ‘firm and is unlikely to change.’ There are two problems with this attitude. First, they are not open to any sort of dialogue. Second, they are acting stubborn about this, which is odd for a place like Middlebury. Everyone remembers what happened with the college logo episode: the college came up with a new logo without consulting students, the students protested, the college officials maintained their stance that the new logo is good and change takes time to get accepted, the students gave their arguments and the college officials realized that perhaps the students were correct. If the college can revise its decision about the logo, what makes Dining Services think they are infallible?

In the end, another point that I’d like to raise is that the dining services would be unable to provide examples from any peer institution of dining halls running without trays. Even cheap fast food restaurants have trays; the restaurants which do not have trays are the ones where there are people to wait the tables. An eatery with a buffet arrangement simply has to provide trays to save the hassle of making multiple trips and handling more stuff than they could handle.

The fact of the matter is that we are worse off than before, even though we are paying more. What’s worse is that the stated benefit of taking away something we enjoyed, in this case (environmental sustainability) remains dubious, which is quite a shame.