The Middlebury Campus

Abuses at 10 O’Clock Ross Are Classist and Immature

By WILL KELLEY

I get really annoyed every time 10 o’clock Ross gets cancelled. Not because I go to 10 o’clock Ross, but because every email with the subject line “10 o’clock Ross Suspended” reminds me that our campus is too immature to deal with any sort of responsibility, especially when it involves respecting dining hall staff.

Usually it’s cancelled because people are leaving a mess or are bringing alcohol, but last week someone broke into a dairy-free cooler by brute force. It might seem like this is a criminal departure from the previous violations, but I think it fits right in. Whoever broke into that cooler felt entitled to whatever was inside of it. Anyone who leaves a mess of cereal and ice cream feels entitled to the time it takes for a dining staff member to clean up the congealed cereal bits and sticky ice cream residue in time for breakfast the next day.

Let me break this down. It’s true that Middlebury pays MCDS staff to clean up after students. But when dining staff are setting up breakfast, they shouldn’t have to clean anything.  They clean the tables after dinner, so theoretically the tables should still be clean in the morning.  The mess from 10 o’clock Ross interferes with this. Having to clean up after 10 o’clock Ross is an unnecessary burden on the dining staff, and our inability to clean up directly translates into extra work in their already full morning.

Our dining staff have to do more every morning for the same compensation. This amounts to material class exploitation. If you don’t believe that, take Intro to Sociology with Professor McCallum. Any labor that a worker performs in excess of what they need to survive is called surplus labor. In a fair society, every worker is compensated for all of their surplus labor. Exploitation occurs when the worker isn’t compensated for their surplus labor — instead, the benefits of that labor are appropriated by someone else.

Student-led cleanup was a part of the 10 o’clock Ross agreement from the very beginning. When we fail to clean up, we abdicate that responsibility and force the dining staff to do surplus work without being compensated. Anyone who doesn’t clean up after themselves is saying that they are entitled to an MCDS staff member’s surplus labor so that they can go to bed earlier, write an extra two sentences of essay or play 15 extra minutes of Fortnite.

It’s also a matter of basic decency. More often than not, the mess that we leave after a single meal is way more than it should be. It’s almost as if people are taking full advantage of the fact that they don’t have to clean up after themselves. From the student perspective, the food just magically disappears; we aren’t around to see the dining staff meticulously clean up every piece, making sure that our dining halls are a welcoming and clean place for us to eat every day. Perhaps if we saw them do this, we would act with the basic human decency we might use in our own houses, when our roommates and friends have to do the cleaning.

All of the dining staff here wake up way earlier than any of us students do. Some of them have to commute in from New York, waking up even earlier so they can get here in time to put breakfast on the table with the utmost efficiency. The dining staff also save us time and trouble by cleaning our dishes, something that I am grateful for every day. These wonderful people already do a whole lot to make our lives easier, and the least we can do is treat them with basic human decency by cleaning up after ourselves.

And what should we do about 10 o’clock Ross? The SGA is right to shut it down. We should do all we can to shut down exploitation at Middlebury.  If we can take responsibility and clean up after ourselves, then by all means we should have 10 o’clock Ross. But if we can’t do 10 o’clock Ross without exploiting our dining staff, then the SGA should ban 10 o’clock Ross and spend more time organizing staff appreciation dinners like the one they hosted in Atwater two weeks ago.

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