Column | Jan. 9

One fruit, two fruit*

Once upon a time, I wandered out of a dining hall clasping an apple in one hand and two bananas in the other. I was stopped by the card swiper, whose name I will tactfully omit here to protect his privacy and to cover up the fact that I’ve forgotten it. The gentleman sternly informed me that I was violating Dining Services policy by carrying more than one piece of fruit out of the building. I was surprised — not that the policy existed, but that anyone would bother enforcing it. I meekly put the bananas back on the fruit rack and left the cafeteria, holding my apple ration up before me like a criminal as I passed the desk. That night, I went to bed with a rumbling tummy. There was a small blank space inside me where a banana should have been.

Let us carefully consider all sides of Princeton’s fruit policy. Fruit has a short shelf life; after a week on display, pears and apples develop a number of mysterious black holes and are subsequently donated to pigs. In preventing us from eating as much fruit as we can before it goes bad, Dining Services is sending a sly and cruel message about the relative value of pigs and Princeton students. Consider the countless advantages to letting students take as many extra pieces of fruit as they please back to their dorm: Student health would be marginally improved, dining hall pears wouldn’t have a chance to go bad and the flies haunting the fruit shelves of most dining halls might finally disperse in search of rottener pastures.

However, we must not ignore the potential negative fallout of a fruit policy change. There is a dark side to every rainbow, a stomachache to every golden apple (This is not a metaphor — literally every yellow apple gives me a stomach ache. This will be explored at length in my next column). Here is the indisputable other hand of permitting fruit binges: An unlimited fruit quota would require a faster turnover rate for fruit in the dining halls. This places an unfair budgetary and logistical strain on Dining Services, which may find itself unable to finance critical events like bringing in gourmet chefs for special one-time dinners. Besides, expanding the fruit quota could easily lead to concessions over other food groups as well. The slippery slope argument lives, and it’s gorging itself on a backpack full of pizza unjustly swiped from Wu.

On the other hand — there is another hand to every other hand, and there are fingers to make the breakdown simpler — we already allow students to carry a hell of a lot of free food away from a dining facility. It’s called “late meal,” and should students choose to make up their allotted credit of $6.95 entirely in apples, they will have enough free Granny Smiths to keep the doctor away for a week. Notice, by the way, that the apples in Frist are rarely rotten, holey or soft. Coincidence?

On the other hand (for those of you who haven’t kept up, we’re on the index finger of the left hand), the health of the students, shine of the apples and budget of Dining Services is utterly beside the point. What’s at stake here is the principle of the thing. Allowing students to pilfer however much fruit they like from the halls undermines the entire meal plan system; it’s tantamount to declaring that there’s no real value to the food we buy at the beginning of each year, or that eating three meals a day doesn’t actually cost $5,860 per semester. This is outrageous. There is a set exorbitant cost to the meals we eat. Anyone who does a little soul-searching will realize that taking extra apples is a blatant violation of the eighth commandment, utilitarian principles and Plato’s conception of justice; pick your poison and respect the policy.

And finally (we’re approaching the middle finger of the same hand), one might argue that this is not a very important issue to be discussing in the first place. I understand that point of view. It is an important voice, representative of a significant portion of the student body, and should be carefully considered by the administration when they review the policy.

I don’t care enough about this subject to risk sharing a potentially controversial opinion about it. If you want to take an extra fruit out of Rocky, I’m not judging you. If you think that kind of behavior is immoral and stealing is stealing whatever the quantity or value, well, I respect your position. Basically, I love everybody. If you are offended by any element or by the entirety of this column, blame my editor. She forced me to take an aggressive tone.

Tehila Wenger is a politics major from Columbus, Ohio.  She can be reached at twenger@princeton.edu.

* Just in case you’re a reporter for The Daily Caller looking to dig up dirt, please note that this article is part of The Daily Princetonian’s annual joke issue. Use discretion before citing.

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