Defender Grille balances trust with lost inventory

Glory Reitz—Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Glory Reitz

At 9:58 p.m., two minutes before closing time, a student ran into the Defender Grille  and grabbed a disposable cup.

“Don’t worry about it,” the student said to employees, stopping at the soda fountain.

According to a Grille employee, a significant portion of the Grille’s inventory disappears each week. While some students accidentally take sides or drinks not included with their meals, others intentionally steal food or drink items without paying for them.

During hot meal exchange hours, the problem increases as dozens of students filter in and out of the Grille, making it difficult to spot when a Gatorade or salad is stolen. Still, Grille workers know it occurs. They’re aware of a student who is “notorious” for taking hot sandwiches prepared for someone else’s order.

“That’s really frustrating,” the Grille employee said, “At the end of the day, there’s not a lot that can be done about it.”

Because the Grille is run by Creative Dining, employees’ interactions with students are limited. If a student doesn’t scans their ID for payment, the employee cannot confiscate the item or stop the student from leaving the Grille.

Photo Credit: Glory Reitz

“You can make eye contact and walk out and they don’t care,” a junior student said.

Once, the student, who takes a drink without paying every day, heisted a box of apples from the Grille, walking past multiple employees without being stopped.

To act against a thief, Grille employees must go through Dordt’s disciplinary system. According to Robert Taylor, Vice President for Student Success and Dean of Students, a text will suffice, but he doesn’t remember hearing any theft complaints from Creative Dining since a student took an entire cookie jar about two years ago. The Grille employee said theft happens too often to report every small infractionmultiple every day.

Taylor echoed the employee’s concern over frequent small-scale thefts, which are hard to keep track of. Like any retail service, the Grille will take some losses and make up for them in other ways, but both Taylor and the employee were disappointed in students who take advantage of Dordt’s trust.

Taylor said he does not want the campus to feel like a police state, but hopes students will learn responsibility because they feel trusted as adults to make good decisions. Both Taylor and the Grille employee noted that an overwhelming majority of students live up to that responsibility, leaving only a few regular side-snatchers.

“The world operates on trust,” Taylor said. “And we should be really good at it. People at Dordt should be really good at making that work well. And I think by and large, we are.”

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