Editorial: Dining hall trays: An inconvenient truth

Don’t drop your trays while you’re throwing up your arms.
Last month, after Student Government Association (SGA) e-mailed students a food preference survey that included a question about their views on dining hall trays trays ‘- paving the way for their potential removal ‘- some students, like members of the Husky Energy Action Team, vocalized support for the idea. But others, like the members of Facebook group ‘Banning Trays from Northeastern Dining Halls is a Terrible Idea!’ aren’t so keen.
Members of the group seem to think ditching trays is a power issue ‘- as one member wrote on the wall, the elimination of trays is ‘the elimination of a student right.’
True, removing trays from Northeastern’s dining halls could be a slight inconvenience. Students will now have to get out of their chairs and ‘- gasp! ‘- walk if they want more food.
But the elimination of a student right? Let’s not get carried away, here. What right would that be ‘- the right to be lazy and wasteful?
Food service provider ARAMAK has statistics that speak for themselves:’ Colleges who remove trays reduce waste by 25 to 30 percent. Removing trays reduces over-eating. And, perhaps most notably, half a gallon of water is used every time a single tray is washed. Imagine taking that two-liter soda bottle out of your refrigerator, filling it with water and throwing it out the window every time you eat a meal.
These statistics were enough to convince many colleges and universities to ditch their trays, and they’re quickly seeing positive results. The New York Times reported on April 29 that after the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) got rid of trays last summer, one dining hall manager said she saw ‘a marked drop in food waste, estimating that the school saved 10 percent on food spending despite rising ingredient costs.’
Other schools that have successfully eliminated trays include Columbia University, the University of Delaware, San Diego State University and the College of William & Mary.
With such convincing statistics and success stories, it seems like a no-brainer to wave goodbye to trays and say hello to energy-saving tactics that will keep dollars in the university’s pocket. But some senators and students appear to be fighting progress for the sake of putting up a fight.
Resident Student Association Vice President of Housing Services and SGA senator Matt Soleyn advocates for saving the trays while advertising that they aren’t necessary to use, but progress is not made through a couple of posters. No matter how many posters are tacked on the walls, if the trays are there, we will use them ‘- it’s just human nature ‘- and if they’re not there, we’ll be just fine.
Still, we’re far away from that point. SGA President-elect Ryan Fox said in an article in today’s issue of The News that the SGA is waiting to see the results of the survey that initially brought the tray issue out in mid-May, so it can consider the student body’s opinion in their decision.
‘SGA is not necessarily for or against trays. We’re considering it,’ he said.
The decision-making process has been fair, and SGA is right to listen to the concerns of the students. But as students, we should support this movement. Nobody is trying to take control of us ‘- SGA is asking for our opinion, and if they wanted to be controlling, using trays would be a strange way to do that.
Given the huge potential for savings and environmental benefits, Northeastern should get rid of the dining hall trays. Concerned students might consider a good pair of walking shoes, an energy drink or a butler.

Leave a Reply