Believe in the Backpack Ban

Some students may have not heard about the backpack ban in the Harris/Millis dining hall.

Extreme theft has been a continuing problem not only in Harris/Millis, but at all dining halls around campus causing administration to start a backpack ban, said Tom Fondakowski, the unit manager of Harris/Millis dining hall.

“Our unlimited meal plan refers to all-you-can-eat on our china, not all you can fit in your backpack,” Fondakowski said.

There has been pressure on Fondakowski and his staff to take a more forceful approach to extreme theft by checking students’ backpacks and filing police paperwork when shoplifters are caught, a practice that is implemented at the Marché, he said. 

“I didn’t want to create that environment in my dining hall, where the students were being forced to open their bags, being treated like criminals,” Fondakowski said. “By reinstating the no backpack policy, this anxiety could be completely eliminated.”

There was some unrest two weeks ago when Fondakowski and his staff stood in the door of the Harris/Millis dining hall, first informing students that they could not bring their school bags inside, he said.

“I think it’s kind of stupid that you have to go all the way back to your room before you can grab a bite to eat after class,” sophomore Scott Scribi said.  “I know they are concerned about stealing stuff, but it’s still pretty dumb.”

The main concern reported to the staff by students was backpack safety, Fondakowski said.

 In addition to both the register in the dining hall and the registry desk upstairs, cubbies right outside the hall were provided for students to leave their personal belongings, he said.

Fondakowski said he is stressing that this policy isn’t meant to separate students from their valuable items or discourage them from cracking the books while they grub.

Students are still encouraged to bring their books, laptops, keys, wallets, small purses and even their long boards into the dining hall, but it is the large backpacks that are not allowed at the students’ tables, he said.

The biggest worry of Fondakowski and his staff at the Harris/Millis dining hall was being able to provide everyone with the same service and food options, Fondakowski    said.

“[Before the ban] we were running out of our Friday shipment by Sunday afternoon,” he said.

Fondakowski said he was also concerned for the new late night policy in which students pulling all-nighters have been able to visit the dining hall between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

The theft of fruits, bagels and beverages were crippling the late night program, he said.

Some students said they were wary of this new policy when it first appeared, but said that they are not that concerned anymore.

“It hasn’t affected me at all,” junior Tegan Chawla said. “I don’t have my backpack when I go to eat anyways.”