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ISSUE 120 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/29/2006

Bon Appetit increases security at Stav

By Kirstin Fawcett
Copy Editor
and Lindsay Shimizu
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 29, 2006

The school year began with many campus changes: construction of a new science building, introduction of a new card system and completion of a new wind turbine. Bon Appétit staff also saw a need for changes, especially in regards to security in Stav Hall and the monitoring of food and of students going in and out.

Bon Appétit hired Tom, who did not want to give his last name, to prevent students from going in the back way or stop them if they try to take out food, in response to thefts that occurred last year. According to Tom, cafeteria sentinels were a common sight several years ago for St. Olaf students. However, two years ago Bon Appétit decided that the job was dispensable and realized their mistake after calculations revealed that an average of 200 students were sneaking into the cafeteria daily without paying.

Katie McKenna, general manager for Bon Appétit, affirmed the financial worth of supporting a full-time security position.

"We have a lot of [stealing]," she said. "I have no problem with students grabbing a piece of fruit or a cookie, but there is a problem when they are using the Caf to supplement their dorm rooms."

Tom named safety as the primary reason that students are not allowed to leave the cafeteria with certain foods in hand. He does allow single pieces of fruit, a bagel or a cookie, but grapes, sandwiches and other foods that could be dropped and possibly cause somebody to slip are no-nos. Besides keeping Buntrock Commons safe, Tom protects Bon Appétit from costly food loss.

"Would you take extra food from a buffet in a restaurant?" Tom asked.

McKenna agreed.

"The problem with an all-you-can-eat cafeteria is that you have to draw the line somewhere," she said. "You couldn't get away with taking food from an all you can eat restaurant, for example.

The introduction of the OLE Card system has also contributed to the need for greater security. The new policy is 'no card, no eat.' Because of this, Bon Appétit anticipated higher numbers of students trying to cheat the system ñ another problem, which Tom was hired to prevent.

As for more frequent ID checks at Stav Hall, "It's always been the case to perform random checks," said McKenna. However, as some may have noticed, ID verification has been more frequent as of late.

"It's more important now because the one card is more valuable," McKenna said.

Tom has had his fair share of hostile student encounters. While apprehending contraband food is part of his job description, Tom says that some students react aggressively when he tries to enforce cafeteria rules. The majority of the Olaf community will sheepishly hand him whatever they try to sneak out, but some, Tom said, will fling their food onto the floor and stalk away.

"The worst [student] I had, he threw the food on the floor," Tom said. "I had another one shove me, but mostly they're nice about it."

Tom remains good-natured about his position. When told he was being called the "Caf Bouncer he just chuckled and shook his head. He later joked about all the different ways people try to sneak food out.

"I just don't think they know what they're doing," he said about stealing food. Kids are always going to do things that they wouldn't normally do when they get away from home.

Tom came to Northfield three years ago after having surgery on what was presumed to be deadly brain cancer. Told he would either die or become fully paralyzed, Tom underwent surgery only to find that his tumor was not, in fact, a tumor, and was not malignant. After undergoing rigorous physical therapy and miraculously regaining the ability to walk, Tom and his wife moved to Northfield in order to be closer to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.

While the idea of Stav Hall security may seem absurd to some, students have to put things into perspective. After all, the rules are neither harsh nor particularly new.

Despite the distance from his home state and a tumultuous medical history, Tom is content with his current life in Northfield and his job as cafeteria monitor.

"It's an easy job," Tom said. "And I don't mind [the kids who make it difficult]. I never went to college myself, but [some of the students here], they're just kids. They'll grow up."

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