Take Out at Bryn Mawr: A Personal Reflection

Posted December 7th, 2012 at 10:47 am.

by: Alisha Park, Bryn Mawr ‘13

When I first learned about take out freshman year, I thought it was a great way to get hot food and avoid making sandwiches if I was short on time. I could have food without worrying about skipping meals or just eating fruit. Most dining halls I had visited before coming to Bryn Mawr were not as student friendly or accommodating.

However, after several weeks of working in Erdman Dining Hall, I slowly began to realize Styrofoam take out boxes were more of a nuisance than beneficial. The time I spent making boxes was time away from wiping tables, refilling dessert toppings, and brewing coffee. Sometimes when I would clean tables at the end of my work shift, I was appalled by the sheer number of boxes left on dining hall tables thrown around like newspaper.

People forget that take out is a privilege at Bryn Mawr and the right to the boxes can be taken away. While students discuss the high cost of the orange juice machine publicly, the cost of take out is never mentioned. In fact, its usage is never debated or questioned.

This year, take out cups were permanently removed. Although total take out numbers have decreased in both Erdman and Haffner Dining Hall, the decision of grabbing a Styrofoam take out box and then throwing the box away seems to be one action of everyday life, a microcosm of subconscious student behavior. The effects of increasing waste seem to not outweigh the cost of personal habits.

I believe that sitting and eating is important for mental health and it is my break from studying or from class time. It is time to spend with friends, teammates and peers. This break produces stories, laughs and new ideas. Off the top of my head, I forget the last time I had to ask for take out. I am aware of the conscious decision I make to fit mealtime in my schedule. This break becomes a part of my total balance as a person and as a student. While this might not be a decision for everyone, Bryn Mawr students can find their own personal solutions. There are other options to avoid take out. Students can request boxed meals or maybe shift study time by a half hour to sit down for lunch. A well-needed break is always deserved!

As I think about life after Bryn Mawr, I also think about the conscious decisions and actions I make everyday that impact the world, surroundings and spaces around me. A few are some I plan and hope to use when I enter the “real world.” Still, on campus, lasting impressions, memories and actions linger everyday because people impact each other unconsciously. Why should Bryn Mawr students be remembered for using approximately 450 take out boxes every day?

Take out is a privilege that should remain in the dining halls and be available for everyone and not be lost from unintentional student behavior.

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