Clusterfork: Silverware theft worsens at Market Square

Students+explore+the+dining+options%2C+including+a+pizza+station%2C+sandwich+station%2C+salad+bar+and+more+inside+Market+Square.+%28Kyla+Vogel%2FTCU+360%29.

Students explore the dining options, including a pizza station, sandwich station, salad bar and more inside Market Square. (Kyla Vogel/TCU 360).

By Emma Watson

At Market Square, maybe the fork did run off with the spoon.

Forks, spoons, knives, plates and cups are all going missing, and diners are the leading suspects. 

“This [year] has been the worst,” said Mystee Streetman, a manager at Market Square. “There’s a lot of things we’re low on.”

Pilfering is a problem unique to Market Square because it uses reusable plates, silverware and cups; the other dining halls use to-go containers or plastics.

Russell Humphries, the executive chef, said items are also accidentally being thrown away. 

It’s not just students stealing, Streetman said, adding that it’s “faculty, staff, everybody.”

Humphries said the dining service just ordered more silverware, and it’s already gone.

“It’s hard to keep up with,” said Streetman. “It’s not just silverware; it’s everything that’s disappearing.”

An informal Instagram poll asked 58 students if they have ever taken items from Market Square. About 21% of responders admitted to stealing from Market Square; most of them confessed to having stolen silverware or cups.

The results of the informal theft poll. (TCU 360/Skye Moreno)

“This has always been an issue,” said Gracie Harris, the chair of SGA’s dining services committee. Harris said forks are the most commonly stolen utensil.

The missing items can make dining difficult.

“If 500 kids just went through, and you’re coming through, guess what? Now you ain’t got nothing to eat off of,” said Humphries. “It has that domino effect.”

The few items left at a given time are constantly being washed. “That’s where the struggles are,” Humphries said.

Students enjoy Market Square, the main dining spot in the BLUU (TCU360).

“It’s just frustrating for students to go into the BLUU and not be able to find a fork or a plate or anything else they might need while they’re there,” said Harris.

Dining at TCU is provided by Sodexo, which is aware of this issue and wants to prevent it from happening, said Harris. 

“It is a hard problem to prevent,” said Harris. “If someone puts a fork in their backpack, no one is going to stop them on their way out.”

The Market Square staff doesn’t have time to police students, said Harris.“A lot of the time they’re more focused on […] cooking and […] preparing the meals.”

Humphries said he’s never seen someone walk out with something from Market Square, but he has found plates and other items scattered across campus.

“People just see it as a good opportunity,” Harris said. “They’re easy to make, and they’re probably useful for a lot of people.”

A lot of missing items are found in residence halls. 

Streetman said students just don’t want to buy their own silverware and plates.

“Every time they go and clean the dorms and stuff, they’ll go around and pick up a whole bunch of our stuff,” said Streetman.

Harris said they’ve discussed setting up return boxes in the residence halls at the end of the year.

“People, if they have taken forks, spoons, knives, plates, whatever, as they’re moving out of residence halls, they can just drop what they’ve taken in there,” Harris said.

While return boxes might help Market Square retrieve some of the items it’s lost, Humphries said it’s more important that students need to know basic rules.

“Stealing is wrong,” said Humphries. “That’s all really what it comes down to.”