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November 07, 2008

St. Michael's Tries to Go Trayless

Though it inspired nearly-unanimous good feelings across the St. Michael's College campus this week, the election of Barack Obama as our next president was only the second-most-talked-about issue around the lovely college grounds this week. The primary topic of discussion? Our dining hall in Alliot Hall got rid of its trays this week. The trays will return next week, but they'll be gone for good come January... maybe.

The college's sustainability coordinator, Heather Ellis, along with our environmental group, Green Up SMC, have been advocating traylessness in Alliot for much of this year. Champlain, Middlebury, and UVM have all been trayless since at least last year, but trends take a while to get out here to Colchester. Sodexo and the Student Association finally sponsored this week's attempt at traylessness. To their credit, both sources have been behind the move, with the Student Association distributing a few emails and flyers touting the positive reasons behind getting rid of our trays.

Obviously the environmental benefits would be numerous, as each tray takes 11 oz. of hot water to wash, not to mention the soap and chemicals that are required, as dining services general manager Hank Strashnick says in this article. Indeed, a sign was displayed in the dining hall on Thursday evening announcing that 920 gallons of water had been saved during the first three days of trayless Alliot. The hope is that traylessness will reduce the amount of uneaten food wasted by students, as well. Apart from the green benefits, the costs saved by not having to wash trays will be put towards the planned "fourth meal" program, where the dining hall will open late at night on weeknights — just in case three meals a day of delicious Sodexo college food weren't enough.

Still, the SA and Sodexo have taken pains to make it clear that this is merely a pilot program, and that the plans to go totally trayless in the spring semester could still be called off if this doesn't go well. And there has, in fact, been some outcry towards the no-tray movement. Why? Well, because it's just too damn hard to carry all that food without a tray!

Listen: if you're eating enough food that it requires more than one trip to the serving area, then you could probably use the exercise.

A final decision on whether or not Alliot will, in fact, go permanently trayless next semester has not yet been announced. Despite the complaints, I'm confident that the SA and Sodexo will realize the extensive benefits and make the change permanent. Because it'd be absolutely pathetic if we sacrificed the very extensive environmental and monetary benefits of dumping trays just because a few people can't be bothered to make a second trip to get their extra bowl of pasta and cake.

More coverage on trayless Alliot is available from our two campus media sources, The Echo and The Defender. Notice how the kid in the second picture of The Echo's article swiped a tray from the small pile that's been left for disabled students. What a badass.


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