The Collegian
Tuesday, March 28, 2023

In defense of the trays

"Oh God, not again..." were the first words that I heard when I walked into D-Hall last Friday at lunch time. I quickly looked around and was reminded by the countless signs that I had indeed stumbled into the middle of "tray-less Friday".

Let me first say that I am all for voluntary efforts that encourage good stewardship of our planet and environment. Students on campus should be applauded for turning off the lights in their dorm room when they leave and even recycling those countless solo cups from the apartments on the weekend. Even the lights that take a few minutes to turn on in my residence hall are acceptable. My purpose in writing this editorial is not to ignorantly rail against responsible behavior, but to point out the absurdity and undue burden of militant campus initiatives such as tray-less Fridays in the name of "saving the environment".

As I pass a woman in the D-Hall lobby who was practically in a state of hysteria trying to get students to sign this environmental pledge with Sharpies (Oh, the irony), I turn to my lunch partner and manage to convey to her over the shrieking behind me that I don't have time before work to make several trips back and forth to the food stations and tray conveyer belt. I notice that the signs around me state that trays will be available on request. I make my way over to the pasta bar and ask one of the attendants if I may have a tray. She smiles at me and hands me two - one for me and one for my lunch buddy. Before I can even turn around, I am met by the D-Hall manager who informs me that "today is tray-less Friday and you may not have a tray."

"Excuse me? The signs say they are available on request," I reply. The manager robotically repeats the curse and then proceeds to remove the tray from my hands. Apparently, if guilting someone into conserving water (a renewable source that literally falls from the sky) at D-Hall doesn't work, outright lying does.

I understand that waste on this campus is a problem. Since we appear to be so adamant and innovative about ways we can be better stewards of our resources, lets also put that enthusiasm into determining ways to achieve that same result through ways that don't tick off half the student body or substantially impede the lives of busy college students. I'm tired of those of you that choose to be militant about your environmental views to the point of making decisions for me. You embarrass those of us looking to be good stewards of our environment through less intrusive means. We are first and foremost an academic institution, not the Sierra Club headquarters.

As I left D-Hall, I noted the mounting line of people to see the manager on-duty as well as the girl who had lost the plate-cup-bowl-silverware juggling act and spilled her lunch all over the floor. I wonder if the shrieking woman in the lobby knows they probably aren't using biodegradable cleaner to clean up the mess.

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now