Today: Feb 29, 2024

Personal containers banned at Conn

Mackenzie Hurlbert – Copy Editor –

The new sign haunting the front desk of Connecticut Hall has been causing much aggravation with students on campus. In passive, blue ink it reads, “We are very sorry but students are not allowed to bring any of their own personal beverage or food containers into Conn Hall. Thank you.” It’s not an in-your-face, red-font prohibition, but it has stirred some emotions among students who, like myself, think that we pay for the meal plan, so we should be able to take food back to our rooms if we’re in a rush.

Photo Courtesy | Mackenzie Hurlburt
A Student at Conn Hall preparing his meal.

Likewise, many students are coffee drinkers, and while I can’t relate to this, I do see how the sudden ban of beverage containers can be a large inconvenience to coffee addicts. Imagine looking forward to your two liter travel-mug infusion of caffeine, only to realize that you can’t use that container and are now limited to a puny, eight-ounce shot.

I admit, I have often gone to Conn on my way back from class, grabbed a peanut butter sandwich or something of that sort, and taken it back to my room because I didn’t have the time to spend at a sit-down meal while homework assignments loomed overhead. Another setback, being an early riser, I have to wait until 9:30 or 10am to eat on the weekends and it’s torturous. To avoid early morning starvation, I usually grab a bagel or a piece of fruit from Conn the night before. After talking to some students around campus, it’s clear that there is an overall negative response to this sign and its new rule.

Junior English major Alexandra Murray thought the rule was unfair. “I don’t think it’s fair because I pay for this meal plan and there shouldn’t be a set time when I could eat food from Conn,” she said. “Everyone has a life. They can’t always sit down to eat a meal.” Murray’s tight schedule of back-to-back classes makes it necessary for her to plan ahead. If she knows she won’t get a break to eat lunch, Murray often packs a sandwich from Conn in the morning and eats it when she can. Murray’s reaction to the new sign and its prohibition was, “As long as [students] pay, what does it matter?”

Many Conn Hall customers including myself are asking the same question: Why are outside food and beverage containers such a big deal?

Photo Courtesy | Mackenzie Hurlburt
The warning sign to students alerting them no outside containers are allowed in at Conn Hall.

There are basically two answers to that question which I presented to the District Manager of Chartwells Food Service Dan Dawkins. Dawkins said the biggest issue is that it creates a health concern. All serving utensils, plates, and trays at Conn are heated to 180° for sanitization. Outside food and beverage containers could cause a transfer of bacteria from personal containers to Conn’s containers, consequently infecting the entire tray of food or drink nozzle. Therefore, this rule is put in place to avoid such contamination. “[The rule] is a Health Department regulation because it has to be sanitized,” said Dawkins.

The second reason for the rule is because we are actually not supposed to take food out of Conn Hall. “Conn Hall is an all-you-can-eat facility while you’re here,” said Dawkins. “No food is supposed to come out of Conn Hall.” Dawkins compared Conn to a buffet you would visit elsewhere: you can eat all you want when you’re there, but they don’t give you a to-go box when you head out. Basically, students are supposed to eat Conn food only in Conn and to eat it elsewhere would be breaking the rules.

Dawkins did mention a service Chartwells offers to students who are sick or can’t travel to Conn from their dorm. Sick Tray is a program you can sign up for online and is basically a to-go meal plan. Students who are unable to make it to Conn or the Student Center can sign up online to send a friend to fetch their food. The container is sanitized and provided by Conn, and the meals vary between the Conn and the Adanti Student Center.

So my initial reaction to the new sign at Conn has been sedated. While I do think students in a rush or swamped with homework should be able to grab a quick to-go snack, I can see how health concerns could be prevalent. The presence of tupperware and thermoses will be forever banned at Conn, but at least there is a valid reason behind the rule and the answer to our questions has finally been provided.

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