Filth of College dishes and utensils deters students from dining halls


You pick me up, take one look at me, and toss me back into the hole from whence I came. With your justified sense of disgust, you don’t acknowledge me for more than a few seconds. I suppose that’s typical in the life of a spoon, or publicly-used silverware, really. At least we’re not alone. The other day I overheard a sesame seed spangled saucer whimpering to a mug befouled by mocha on the drying rack about being passed over by some starving STEM major. Here in my home, the College of William and Mary’s Commons Dining Hall, nothing beats feeling the reflected straight-toothed smile of a student bend around me like a fun house mirror. Sadly, such a delight will only crop up once in a blue moon these days, since constant coverage in solidified pretzel bun mush strips even the most handsome spoon of his glamorous shimmer.

Personally, I love taking the plunge into the balmy blue liquid at the bottom of the used utensil hatch after polishing off some raisin bran. To the untrained eye, this solution appears “sterile,” like the stuff your dentist uses to saturate her stash of picks between appointments. The trouble is, I think it’s all for show. One swift rinse in the sink and it’s back in the ball game. Who am I kidding? I’m still filthy. The poor plates and beggarly bowls can’t relish in the joyous dip into the blue lagoon. At least they don’t have to pretend like they’re not all mucky. Besides, they take more than their fair share of relish whenever hot dog day rolls around.

You have no idea what guilt is until you’re unwillingly cast into the role of divvying up the so called “freshman plague” amongst 6,000 undergraduates. The girl you make googly eyes at in geology now wants you quarantined after you suffered a brief fifteen minute seizure courtesy of the wheeze, hack and cough. Now imagine how I feel. I will happily hurl myself onto a sponge the way you dive into bed after your microeconomics midterm. That is, of course, right after I sprout limbs and mobilize. You know the saying, my friend, “when sporks fly”. Oh, the things I would give just to be clean … then you’d come set me free from my banishment within the black hole cup. Think about it: you’d sooner sip cinnamon oatmeal straight from the bowl like your beagle named Rufus than employ my services. Don’t even think about defending my plastic counterparts. I know you attended the climate strike; I saw it on Snapchat, so don’t be a hypocrite. The same goes for those hideous wooden mixing sticks. Do you know how humans blended tea and water before you all went off on your rainforest genocide? You stirred with a spoon.

Oh, the horror. I stand idly by. Your attempts to lick chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream off the cone are feeble; you went to Spanish class with crusty cheeks by the way. See? We could be so great together. All of us here, from the platter to the porringer, quite literally live to serve. We wear our stainless-steel clad armor and get down to the dirty work. For you, we’re glad to do it. I hear college can be pretty stressful. Have you ever tried practicing food therapy? I’m getting off topic.

Here’s the scoop: we’re ransacked of our very essence of living each time we run through the quickie known as the “wash cycle”. As the number of clean platters on the shelf continues to dwindle, hear my cry. This is the tragedy of the Commons Dining Hall. Long gone are the days of your mother’s squeaky-clean cutlery; the College can’t tolerate the crumbs any longer.

Email Matthew Kortan at


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