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Stolen from a dining hall? Most Brown students have, too

By Olivia Booth

Undergraduates become more likely to steal as they advance through their academic careers at Brown, with rates steadily increasing through a student’s academic career

Brown Opinion Project’s December 2021 poll found that a slim majority of Brown undergraduates have purposely stolen from Brown dining halls and/or cafes at least once. 51.7% of respondents reported having stolen in any capacity, with 18.03% having stolen “many times,” 26.43% “a few times” and 7.3% “once.”

Just 40.37% indicated that they have “never” stolen, while 5.12% students are “unsure” if they had purposely stolen and 2.66% “prefer[red] not to answer.” The poll did not define for respondents what stealing consists of.

“I’ve stolen silverware, cups, whole cartons of oat milk,” said one sophomore who participated in the poll.

Undergraduates become more likely to steal as they advance through their academic careers at Brown: first-years reported having stolen at least once at a rate of 42.58%, while sophomores, juniors, and seniors did so at rates of 46.4%, 58.48%, and 62.50%, respectively. Half of sophomores reported “never” having stolen. First-years reported being “unsure” of whether or not they had “purposely stolen” at the highest relative rate of 10.61%.

The rate at which Brown students steal from dining halls also varies significantly across fields of study. Humanities students reported “never” having stolen at the highest rate of 42.86%, followed by STEM students, social science students, and arts students.

Several respondents cited the cost of Brown’s meal plans in justifying their stealing.

“I feel like [Brown] already charge[s] me so much,” said another member of the class of 2024. “It’s a little ridiculous that if I get breakfast, then lunch, then dinner and I’m still hungry later I can’t eat. It’s nice to have…an extra [Smucker’s] Uncrustable.”

A junior who also has stolen “many times” echoed this sentiment, stating “the meal plan is so expensive…I don’t know that I’m getting [my] money’s worth in what the meal plan is giving me.”

Note: All quoted poll-takers remain anonymous to maintain the integrity of Brown Opinion Project surveys. Brown Opinion Project conducted its December 2021 poll from December 2-3, collecting 488 total responses from undergraduate students. The margin of error is 4.44 percent with 95 percent confidence.


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