Blue cups in Leo’s and the tragedy of the commons
Smug because we proved him right
Shortly after the year began, big blue cups disappeared from Leo’s, leaving students only with small clear ones. It seemed like the big blue cups were just more victims in the new Leo’s push to limit students’ consumption, but according to an email from Andrew Lindquist, the Director of Campus Dining Services, there’s another culprit: short-sighted students!
The issue with the blue cups is that people seem to like them as souvenirs. Each week we see the number of cups dwindle on our inventory….If there was ever a way to ask students to please refrain from taking these and other permanent items from Leo’s it would be wonderful.
Turns out the blue cups are a perfect example of the tragedy of the commons, a theory articulated by Garret Hardin (above). It’s better for everyone if the cups stay in Leo’s, so you don’t have to get up 4 times during a meal to get more water, but it’s better for the individual student to take a cup and hope no one else does.
Their enormous size makes them great for home use, which has inspired many students, including me, to slip them inside backpacks. On the plus side, a new order of cups will be coming in soon.
In every tragedy, there must be a tragic hero, and Lindquist is this story’s Odysseus. In the e-mail he says he misses the cups himself, and just wishes students would stop stealing them. He, most of all, will be excited for Vox Populi’s solution.
So we have a problem: students love big blue cups in Leo’s, but they love them so much they steal them for home use. Lindquist is forced to spend his day filling out orders for more blue cups when he could be hunting the norovirus or hanging with Ripai. This whole problem could be easily resolved: just give blue cups to every student who wants one.
They’re going to take them anyway, but this way Leo’s won’t have to keep ordering more all year long. Plus, everyone having a Leo’s cup will reduce the stolen cup’s usefulness as a conversation piece. Big outlay now or big ones all year long and a stressed Andrew Lindquist: it’s your call, Georgetown.