Cafeteria Etiquette: Basically How to Be Kind in the Dining Hall

By: Anna Fiscarelli-Mintz

Oh, the dining hall. That lovely place of food, camaraderie, and perpetual chaos. It serves hundreds of students, teachers, staff and guests all day every day. And while lunch is probably waaaayy later on your list of important things (after that Bio test you’re cramming for of course), the little actions we make in the dining hall can really add up, even make or break an unsuspecting food-seeker’s day.

A few things to keep in mind are:

1) Be efficient coming out of the servery. It can be difficult to brave the hungry hordes in there, but it’s better for everyone if you get your food and get out as fast as possible (without knocking someone over).

2.) Keep the pulled-up chairs to no more than 3-4 extra per table. A few add ons to a table are fine, but if you see that your normal table is already jammed, take it as an opportunity to sit somewhere else for a day. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet somebody new!

3.) Don’t desert people. As someone who has no X periods free at all, I’ve often come down after a class and sat down at a table only to have everyone else already finished and go upstairs after 5 minutes. Even though you might have a million things to do before period 5, it’s a general courtesy to either sit with the newcomer for a little while or make sure they have another table to go to when the rest of your table leaves. It can come off as exclusive or rude if everyone just decides to leave the moment you arrive. Remember, you wouldn’t want them to do that to you.

4.) Clean up when you’re done! I know you’re just bursting to run upstairs to your next class, but make sure to take up all of your napkins and cups up with you. Don’t forget to say thank you to the people in the plate return- it takes a special kind of person to put up with all of our messes every day! In general, just make sure you’re not leaving the last person at the table a bunch of cups, bowls, or used napkins to deal with by themselves, and if nothing else, it’ll probably get you some brownie points for being a decently responsible human.

So, to recap, Being kind, responsible and aware in the dining hall goes a long way. Actually, it goes a long way in life, too.