Campus News News Opinion

New Cheney Plates Stir Up Debate

Matt Vaghi
Graphic Design Editor

After reading the well-written piece regarding the downsized Cheney Hall plates in last week’s edition of The Student, it is evident that there is student opposition to the new, white plates.

Two years ago, when Cheney downgraded from 10.5-inch diameter blue plates to 9-inch diameter blue ones, there were similar student reactions. As with most changes on campus, there are always discussions that question their validity and effectiveness. It is rather perplexing, however, that there is so much resistance from students in regards to the new white plates.

First and foremost, Cheney Hall is an outstanding dining facility. Its food quality, diverse selection, and freshness are unprecedented compared to most other schools in the northeast. Instead of microwave blasting frozen food, Cheney chefs prepare dishes right in front of customers. It’s startling how many students complain about the food in Cheney. For me, it has been nothing more than a privilege to be an esteemed member of such a tantalizingly delicious campus dining hall.

As Cheney Hall’s Director of Operations, Mr. Todd Alden, stated in last week’s article, “I don’t like to think of [Cheney Hall] as a cafeteria…I like to think of it more as a restaurant.”

Without a doubt, Cheney is indeed more like a restaurant than any token college cafeteria. From its cleanliness, to its seasonal decorations, to its quality of food, it resonates as a high-class restaurant that some students do not take for granted.

In terms of the new, seemingly smaller white plates, some students are disgusted that they can’t slap that extra burger or slice of buffalo chicken pizza on their plates.
One female student athlete stated in last week’s article that she was able to fit an omelet and a few slices of toast on the large 10.5-inch blue plates back during Cheney’s glory days. Now, however, with the smaller white plates, she can only fit the omelet. A practical Springfield College student would simply stack the toast on top of the omelet, carry it to the table, and place it on a napkin or leave it on top of one side of the omelet and eat the other side to make space for the bread.  If this method of eating did not mesh with one’s dining habits, an almost effortless second trip to retrieve the toast on a separate dish would also solve the problem.

It’s astonishing how making an extra trip to the scattered plate stations in Cheney is daunting for some students. Sure, Springfield student athletes may need more food than the non-athlete, but shouldn’t student athletes be physically capable of getting up and walking 50 extra feet to satisfy their hunger? Isn’t that what the body, mind and spirit ideology is all about?

Another common misconception is that the white plates hold less food than last year’s 9-inch diameter blue plates.  Again, according to Alden, the plates hold the same amount of food. And after personal experience this year in Cheney, that statement appears to be true. The white plates are merely shaped differently. And to be honest, they look a lot sleeker and classier than the previous blue plates. Often times when I’m chowing on a Domino’s pizza like a rabid animal on a Friday night, it’s hard to remember that I am a member of such a fine dining establishment.

Finally, the driving force behind the reduction of plate surface area, which is to reduce food waste, is the most important rational component to consider. Based on research in 2009, when the 10.5-inch blue plates were being used, students were throwing away about one pound of food per day. Now, students are only  throwing a quarter pound of uneaten food onto the conveyor belt.

Whether students know it or not, waste is an extremely important environmental issue to address. Cutting down from one pound to one quarter of a pound is a tremendous improvement and will ultimately save money in the long run.  Perhaps when students rent their own apartments they will be cognizant of turning the lights off when a room is not being used, lowering the heat and wearing more blankets, or not scraping excess food into the garbage pail.

As with many other new campus policies and changes, students tend to argue against their implementation. However, the introduction of the new Cheney plates is a justified and rational effort. When I graduate from Springfield College and start to live on my own, I’ll miss Cheney Hall as I wearily pull together some crude concoction of leftovers on a musty, previously used paper plate.

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