Dish policy creates divisions within Wellesley community
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 16:09
Recently, President Bottomly issued an announcement addressing campus issues of trust and community. In line with her requests, this discussion proposes changes in a campus policy that does not work and harms the community at large. Although it may seem trivial, even the smallest of policies has the potential to alienate part of the student body. The recent adoption of the East Side’s notorious dish policy in other dorms across campus has been met with both anger and confusion. Some may remember my article last year discussing this policy. For those unfamiliar, the policy states that if dishes appear in a common space and are not removed, a 5 a.m. hall meeting will occur within three days. Failure to attend this meeting will result in a $50 fine.
Another student beat me to the punch during a floor meeting during the first week of classes by vocalizing the classist nature of the policy. Unlike every other finable infraction on this campus, the dish policy relies on collective responsibility. But not every student comes from the same financial background. Thus the fine impacts some students substantially more than others. After bringing up this concern, I was reminded that no fine will occur if a student attends the meeting. On a campus where most of the students forgo eating, showering and yes, even sleeping, why would the College want to contribute to any of these unhealthy habits? In addition to the classist and unhealthy nature of the policy, it is also fundamentally flawed. As students learned quickly in McAfee Hall last year, if dishes are left in the kitchen, someone will bite the bullet to take them down in order to avoid the meeting and/or fine. That someone rarely tends to be the person who left all, or even any, of the dishes in the common space. That someone also tends to be a person who has more to lose financially.
A prominent Wellesley College staff member told me last year, “It doesn’t matter how it gets done, as long as it does.” Is that the message we want to send to our students? Fairness and equality come second? Yes, the dishes get removed. But yes, students are alienated and frankly, pissed off in the process.
Wellesley consistently praises itself on commitment to inclusion and diversity, so why are we straying from this commitment in the matter of our dish policy? Convenience? Lack of concern for students on financial aid? Lack of concern in general? I can’t even begin to tell you about the amount of time I spent eloquently arguing this point last year only to be met with abrasiveness and, eventually, ignored altogether. So I’ll say it again, and again and again. I don’t mind being “that girl,” because I want to say that I tried to make a difference. If you also want to make the difference, don’t let me be the only one committed to this problem. Tell your RA, your HP, your RD/AC. This policy is utterly unfair and should be amended. I understand that a dish problem exists; I just don’t understand why we think this is the only solution.