An Incident in the Ross Dining Hall

By Guest Contributor

At 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, I walked into Ross Dining Hall to grab an early dinner. The line was already relatively long, and as I waited, several guys lined up after me. They were all wearing hats, and some of them were wearing sport coats and dress pants. Their conversation soon caught my attention, as they were debating whether or not to join their friends earlier in the line to avoid the wait. One of them moved first, going up to the front of the line to have a chat with a friend and then conveniently joining him. The rest of the pack soon followed, though not before one of them threw a handful of mixed greens from the salad bar into a saucepot.

I was fuming at this point. Cutting the line was rude enough, but ruining an entire pot of sauce was an utter disrespect to both the dining hall staff and to other students!

The first thought that sprung to my mind was that they were not Middlebury students. I felt an urge to ask them for their IDs, but I realized that I lacked the formal authority to do anything. There was no way to figure it out. I looked around, and all the other students remained silent. Perhaps, I thought, I was overreacting.

However, the gang did not stop their disturbance. They soon gathered around a long table and began jeering and yelling. Their raucous voices filled the dining hall and ruined my dining experience. By then I figured that they must be Middlebury students to be so openly obnoxious. I later learned that they were hockey players (at least some of them were).

A million thoughts ran through my mind. Should I confront them? Should I call Public Safety? Should I just sit there and tolerate their behavior? I wasn’t sure what to do.

I wasn’t sure what to do because I don’t know how others feel about such behavior. I wasn’t sure what to do because nobody went up to them and told them to be quiet. I don’t know if other Middlebury students think that it’s stupid to take such things seriously, and I was worried that going up to a gang of bros would result in nothing but humiliation. I also didn’t know if such an incident would be worth the time of Public Safety.

As I was hesitating, three Public Safety officers arrived on the scene. I quickly walked up to the officers, told them what I saw and identified the remaining members of the group. I was so proud of the person who called them! He or she did something that I hesitated to do. While the behavior of these hockey players was tolerable to many Middlebury students, it was not to me. I am glad that I wasn’t alone in this.

Silent consent to their behavior will only encourage them to cut in line, contaminate the food and cause disturbance again in the future. I am ashamed of those hockey players for behaving in such an un-Middlebury way. Knowledge may be the primary component of an education at an elite institution like Middlebury, but manners and the ability to conduct oneself with grace are also important. College is a time when we all make mistakes, and I think we can all look to the past and point out something we could have handled better. Even the highest-ranked leaders in our government can say the same. Take, for example, former President George W. Bush, who did similar stupid things when he was at Yale (see his Decision Points). However, that does not mean we should overlook such things when they happen or that these students should not apologize for what they have done. I sincerely hope that they can stop tarnishing the image of Middlebury athletes — and that none of them will become a future President of the United States.

Written by WENBO ZHANG ’13 of Vancouver, Canada