by Javy Rommel-Ruiz

JRC—Long lines, shuttered dining stations, and outrage over uncomposted flatware has plagued Grinnell’s Dining Hall this semester as Dining Services struggles with understaffing. After an attempt to pay workers in only dining dollars fell through due to “violations” of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the college has found itself forced to consider more extreme options to gain and maintain its workforce. Raising wages is of course out of the question; the college is now forcibly conscripting all faculty to work dining shifts under a new “community service” requirement. 

Professors have reportedly adjusted to this sudden change in various ways. “It wasn’t that hard to get used to,” says junior faculty member Sue Donym, interviewed while working the lunch rush in the dish room. “It’s just like grad school, working yourself to death 25 hours a day.” “It brings me back to the glory days of my youth,” another professor chimed in, elbow-deep in soap suds and peanut butter residue. “Whenever someone confuses me for a student, I feel like a Starbucks barista again.”

To stay on top of their teaching duties, some professors have been holding office hours while on shift. “Half my shift is sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for students to empty a desert dish, so I have plenty of time to converse,” says Biology Professor Ross Eforp. When asked if he has gotten reprimanded, he simply replied “Of course, but what are they going to do? Fire me? I have tenure,” before cackling madly and returning to his work of pipetting a caustic, sulfur-scented substance from an eppendorf tube into a tray of coconut trifle. Meanwhile, Anthropology professors have shifted their area of study to allow them to conduct ethnographies of the line for the honor grill, filling in their little notebooks while the supervisor is deliberately looking away. 

Student response to this new program has been mixed. “It’s nice having stir fry and saute back and all, but it’s weird that having your history proof stare daggers at you because your paper is a week late,” said Fredrick Barbarossa ‘22. According to Landa Barvybrea ‘25, “It’s kind of creepy, it’s like professors are human beings or something. I thought they were all just robots that charged in their offices.” Other changes noted by students include a decrease in workload, and a chorus of union hymns emanating from the dish room whenever the sociology and music departments are working a shift.

Some staff have buckled under the increased workload. An economics professor had a mental breakdown in the middle of class, muttering “It’s like I’m being exploited or something,” and “Adam smith, save me!” A political science professor has allegedly given up on voting as an effective means of social change. 

As a result, there have been signs of discontent among some of the faculty spotted: all syllabi have been updated to include “The Communist Manifesto” as required reading, the Computer Science department is planning to offer courses on hacking and cyber warfare, and the Theater department is planning to perform Les Miserables this semester.