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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Observer

Dining hall monitors discuss theft in South Dining Hall

Beverly Skopec and her fellow monitors at South Dining Hall have seen a wide variety of things stolen from their workplace. Some of them stranger than others, Skopec said.

“Mary Ann [Sobieralski, head monitor at South Dining Hall] saw some guys take a big dining hall table, and she called security and they said, ‘Oh, we were just borrowing it,’” Skopec said. “Well, they should’ve told us, then.”

Dee Michael, a fellow monitor, said she believes hundreds of dollars are being wasted every year due to dining hall theft — an issue she said is at its worst since she began working at Notre Dame eight years ago.

“I talked to a manager about it [Monday], and he said he has never — in all the time he’s been here — had to buy so many supplies,” Michael said. “Our glasses are going out the door — plates, silverware too — let alone the food. If you say anything to the kids and tell them the rule is they can only bring out one thing, they don’t pay any attention. I would think that there’s hundreds of dollars going out the door.”

Stolen less often than dining-ware are tables, which have disappeared a couple times this year, Michael said.

“This year we also had two tables stolen — they have the Notre Dame ID on it and were made by a worker that recently died,” she said. “One of the managers found one outside the doors, and the other one magically appeared after we posted a sign about it.”

Chris Abayasinghe, senior director of Campus Dining, said in an email that Campus Dining has had to replace thousands of dollars in property due to theft each year.

“At the end of each year, we have some of the plates/cups/silverware returned to the dining halls,” Abayasinghe said. “Last year, we replaced approximately $10,000 in plates/cups/silverware.”

Skopec said she has had her own experiences with confronting students.

“One day I was coming in to work, a student was walking past me and eating ice cream with one of the blue bowls and a spoon and I said to him, ‘Did you get that from the dining hall?’” she said. “I think it’s like a challenge to them, like to see if they can get away with it.”

Michael notices theft every day — both of food and utensils and other property — and said she thinks if there wasn’t theft of this nature the price of each meal would go down.

“The price of each meal went up this year to $18.50,” Michael said. “If everybody did that … that’s why the rates are so high for the meals, because they have to adjust somehow.”

Abayasinghe said when students are caught stealing food or dining-ware, the policy is to talk to them about the hall’s policy.

“At the beginning of every school year, and towards the end of each semester, we’ve encountered students removing plates, cups and silverware [and] on occasion, our students taking food out of the dining hall,” Abayasinghe said. “We do speak with our students to educate them on our policies with dining in the halls.”

Skopec said concerning food, some of the monitors will not be as strict as others.

“A couple of the ladies upstairs have said some nasty things to students, but most of us are not really tough about it — if you want to walk out with something, you probably can,” she said. “ … If they’re eating it in their hand, we just let them leave with it.”

Michael said every day she sees many people attempting to steal, and she is unable to stop about a half dozen of them.

“My feeling is they’re going to have to leave college and go into the real world,” Michael said. “Once they do that, aren’t they going to have to follow the rules?”