5 Simple Rules of Dining Hall Etiquette

Photo by Nicole D'Alessandro

The dining hall is a cornerstone of college campus living. I’m sure at one time or another, whether you have had a dining plan or not, every student has eaten at a dining hall and experienced its wonders: somehow, there is a variety of foods to eat in a single meal, yet their monotonous consistency is unbearable. My personal experience with the dining hall has differed slightly because I have been behind the scenes in working as a student employee at dinner and Late Nite service for the last three years (I started working second semester, freshman year and I am currently a senior, still working one night a week). Having been on both sides of the dining hall experience, I feel qualified to comment on the general behavior of those working and eating at the dining hall. Though my work takes place in one dining hall in particular, Myles Standish, etiquette can be applied across any BU dining location.

1. This rule is so basic it embarrasses me to have to write it, but you wouldn’t leave dirty dishes on your kitchen table at home would you? Well, don’t do it here either. Clean up after yourself. There is a conveyor belt to put your dishes and trash on, for your convenience. If that conveyor belt needs some kind of maintenance, there are special deals from the California Industrial Rubber Co. This rule is also for the benefit of your fellow diners. It would kind of suck if you went to eat dinner and there were dirty napkins and cups all over the place, right? Not cool.

2. Be courteous and polite. I know the Aramark (non-student) workers can sometimes be intimidating, but often if you throw in a Hola and Por favor (to workers you know speak Spanish, of course), they will give you a smile and ask you how you are. Please don’t freak out because we ran out of your favorite condiment or artery-clogging fried food. There is someone who controls that, who orders the food, and that person is not us. You probably didn’t need that crap anyway.

3. This rule involves a situation that you can do at home, but not at the dining hall. Wear clothes.  This includes proper footwear. It is a liability to have you in the dining hall without shoes– you could slip and fall and it would be our fault that you got hurt. Plus, it’s kinda gross. I know your feet hurt from those high heels ladies, but wait till you sit down to take them off. As for the clothes, its not so much a legal issue, but it is for your benefit. Shirtless/ boxer-revealing guys, nearly shirtless/pantless girls: we don’t need to see that. My friends and I have a name for those midriff-baring, pelvic bone-hugging short shorts: we call them boom-boom shorts. It’s cool if you own boom-boom shorts; many of us do. Just don’t wear them in the dining hall. Let’s all say it together…not cool.

4. Keep the PDA to a reasonable minimum. This goes along with number 3, but I felt it deserved its own number because I have seen a boy run his finger down (who I presume to be) his girlfriend’s (jeans-covered) butt crack. Not really covertly either, they were standing right in front of the register. Just…hold it in for a bit. At least till you get to a more secluded area–and by this I mean your room, not a dining booth.

5. This one’s real simple: don’t steal. Stealing sucks. This has more to do with Late Nite Cafe, but when you still have hundreds of dollars worth of dining points, don’t steal. And let’s face it, if you go to this school and can afford at least partial tuition, you can afford a bag of chips. Don’t steal the silverware either. Come down to Late Nite and take the free plastic forks and spoons. Stealing’s really not that cool. You know we are understaffed and cannot have eyes on everything. The sad thing is, those people who do steal would probably never steal from CampCo or any other convenience store. Well, the dining hall is a business too. Don’t steal. Should I say it one more time? OK, I won’t. DON’T STEAL. Oh sorry, it just slipped out (don’t do it).

In writing these rules, I realized that these do’s and don’t’s apply to life in general. Don’t steal; be polite, courteous, and proper; clean up after yourself. And I’d like to say that the vast majority of you do follow these rules, and are genuinely nice people. As a worker, I’ve had strangers compliment me on everything from my earrings, nail polish, eyebrows, eyes–and let me say I’m never looking my best in my poly-blend uniform shirt and frizzy ponytail. I have had people strike up conversations over the book I was reading and have impromptu dance parties with me. You guys are cool, so just continue being cool. Follow the rules and the world is a better place. Cool? Cool.

About Nicole D'Alessandro

Nicole D'Alessandro (CAS '10) is an IR major and loves cooking, eating, reading, and writing about food. This semester she's even taking a class about it. That's how much she loves food.

View all posts by Nicole D'Alessandro →

3 Comments on “5 Simple Rules of Dining Hall Etiquette”

  1. Thank you soooo much for writing this piece! It should be put in every student’s mailbox, seriously. I have been working at another dining hall for 3 years and these are the same gripes we have. You have no idea how many people do these things.

  2. I think your head’s in the right place, but you sound really snarky and rude for a lot of it… kids don’t want to feel like they’re being nagged–especially by one of their peers. In order for this piece to have been more effective, the sarcasm should’ve been kept to a minimum.

  3. Hello I work as Grill cheif at the Gateway dinning facility in RAF Mildenhall England. Whenever im on break and eating you wouldent belive how many people leave there trays on the table and im tired of watching and helping MOD ( Ministary of Defence personel, British contracters) clean up the messes. Its not in MoD contract to clean up after these lazy airman. If only I was an SNCO or had the balls to tell officers and cheifs to get back and pick up there tray. -_- P.S. all your tips were for costimers not workers exept maybe rule 5 because a lot of workers steal because you have to go way out of your way to pay for anything you eat if you work there so ya good guide though!

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