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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Conspiring to throw napkins

While Food Services’ usual efforts to eliminate the practice of throwing wadded paper napkins, or “Sbisa balls,” may meet with objection from some, its actions on Feb. 25 in response to a student-planned Sbisa ball fight were deplorable.
According to numerous posts on the Hobbes forum, hobbes.resnet.tamu.edu/forums, several students used the forum to schedule and announce a Sbisa ball fight involving approximately 800 Sbisa balls.
Food Services caught wind of the planned Sbisa ball fight, however, so little fun was to be had by Sbisa’s patrons and the planners of the fight that night. While the efforts of Food Services prevented any large quantity of Sbisa balls from flying in the dining hall that Tuesday evening, those entering Sbisa likely noticed a few things out of the ordinary.
Two uniformed University Police Department (UPD) officers were present, standing and watching over the patrons, along with several Food Services employees. Assistant Director of Food Services Cindy Zawieja said she asked the police officers to be present because she felt the situation in Sbisa might be out of control that evening.
While Food Services should provide a safe dining experience, the idea that police officers are necessary to control the throwing of paper napkins is laughable. UPD has far more important things to do than stopping tossed napkins. For example, according to the UPD police blotter, an attempted kidnapping at knifepoint took place in the Read Building the very night of the planned Sbisa ball fight.
Some students involved in the planning of the Sbisa ball fight are being disciplined for their involvement. Senior computer science major Matt Heard, who admits he was involved in the planning, said the fight was meant to bring tradition and fun to the Sbisa dining experience.
Heard said he was confronted by University officials before entering Sbisa for dinner that Tuesday evening, and that he has received a letter from Student Conflict Resolution Services for his role in the planning.
In addition to the absurdity of having cops present and dragging Heard through SCRS for conspiracy to throw napkins, Food Services acted inappropriately by treating all of its paying customers like criminals.
Michael Frink, a sophomore mechanical engineering major present that evening, said Food Services employees were confiscating napkins from customers, including himself. Frink said the employees took napkins away from those who had taken what Food Services deemed was too many.
“I had like five or six napkins,” Frink said. “I was told (by the employee) that napkins cost a lot. One employee was taking them off (customers’ trays) and throwing them in the trash can.”
Food Services’ treating of its customers like children and criminals that night was impolite and offensive. Zawieja justified Food Services’ actions by saying that she couldn’t understand why students would want to damage Sbisa property.
But freshman meteorology major Jason Hernandez said the Sbisa employees scared him more than the prospect of being hit by flying Sbisa balls.
Hernandez added that he was shocked by the actions and presence of the UPD officers.
“If you were to go to a restaurant and employees there were to treat you in a similar manner, they would be out of business,” he said.
Additionally, Frink said he saw one employee walk up to a student juggling Sbisa balls and stare at him. Others were also being visibly monitored. Clearly, students felt uncomfortable.
Food Services, the organization that manages and operates on-campus dining facilities, can do as it wants in an attempt to eradicate traditions in Sbisa; but its treatment of customers as criminals on the evening of Feb. 25 is absolutely not acceptable.
Students should not allow themselves to be treated as children and deviants by Food Services employees. They should patronize dining establishments that actually treat them as the customers they are, and be reluctant to purchase meal plans for next semester. Those residence halls that usually gather for dorm dinner at Sbisa should still go to dinner together, but choose to eat at one of the dining establishments on Northgate. When Sbisa is empty for a few days in a row, or the number of meal plans purchased next semester falls below the expected number, perhaps Food Services will then take notice of patron discontentment.
A&M President Robert M. Gates, should not let the actions of Food Services go unnoticed or without reprimand. Zawieja said “dining in Sbisa is like a regular restaurant and everyone should mind their manners.” This “everyone” should include Food Services’ many workers.

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