Campus Auxiliary Services is directly responsible when students' personal items are stolen, broken or lost as a result of its "no bags upstairs" policy.
I am told this policy exists as a "deterrent," but I fail to see how putting everyone's books and possessions at risk is worth it. This is clearly a legitimate issue, as I have even heard of one student who had books stolen and a laptop broken after leaving his bags at a dining hall entrance.
I have never seen anyone try to steal more than a piece of fruit or bread from Letchworth Dining Hall – not a huge loss for CAS. If I overestimate my hunger toward the end of a meal, should I throw the food out instead of taking it with me to eat it later? If taking a half-eaten or "took-and-then-shouldn't-have-oops" food item is considered theft, such a crime could be just as easily committed using a coat or hat; bringing a backpack to dinner in order to scarf one piece of fruit makes about as much sense as using a turret to discourage robbery.
When I spoke with a CAS employee on this issue, I was told that some people have been caught pilfering cups, silverware and bowls. This is an unfortunate anomaly, but note that you could leave with any of these items hidden in the folds of baggy pants. In light of this shocking revelation, will CAS now ban the wearing of pants at Letchworth?
What, then, could be feasibly stolen in a bag that won't fit into a sweatshirt pocket? The thought of shoving french fries, rice or sandwiches into a bag sounds unpleasant if not desperate. I did hear recently that an individual was caught shoveling plates of chicken wings into an open bag; again, this is the exception, not the rule. You could more effectively steal wrapped loaves of bread or sleeves of bagels because they wouldn't come out dirty or crushed, but I'm fairly certain a culprit would be spotted by a worker or diner. Moreover, a loaf of bread can't be over a foot long; you could just as easily smuggle it out in a coat.
From a contractual point of view, CAS has broken an implied agreement it made with each student who bought a meal plan at the beginning of this year. The "no bags upstairs" policy did not exist at that time. It's unfair to the players to change the rules halfway through the game. Was this literally written into a contract? The answer is no, it was not, but this change further facilitates an uneven power structure that exists for us students – the price of textbooks comes to mind. Though this represents but a minor guideline, it furthers an unfortunate precedent.
Preventing bags from being taken upstairs puts students at risk without acceptable reason. If CAS has reason to believe people are trying to bring containers upstairs hidden in a bag, I will gladly volunteer to open my own bag for inspection. This wouldn't take any more time than it does now to say, "Can you please leave your bag downstairs?" Likewise, those individuals that are caught stealing should be, after two instances, banned from eating upstairs at Letchworth for at least a month. In this way, CAS management would punish only guilty parties rather than inconveniencing the masses with a sweeping rule.