No more cups or placemats: Balliol slams its own students for endlessly stealing from Hall

Oxford students forced to turn out their pockets as catering staff crack down on thievery


Balliol College will no longer use college crested cups or placemats for student dinners after numerous students were caught attempting to steal cups from Hall earlier this week.

Students at the prestigious Oxford college were accused of using their bags and pockets to help smuggle out the college crockery.

Despite some guests being caught red handed and told to turn out their pockets, the college said 20 cups were still missing from this week’s Tuesday Hall formal and considers these “stolen”.

Oxford University students stealing

A Balliol crested cup (via @cu_saccount)

In an email sent to all Balliol students, the college said it was “very sorry” to no longer be using crested cups or placemats and slammed students for their “selfish actions”.

“Staff do not count the cups and placemats after a dinner – they will have to start doing so now due to the incredibly selfish actions of some of you,” students were told.

Balliol College is one of Oxford’s oldest colleges, founded in 1263 – more than 750 years ago.

Oxford University students stealing

The email sent to students earlier this week

Students living at Balliol eat together in the historic Hall throughout term time with three meals served each day during the week and lunch and dinner served at the weekends.

The Hall, which can sit 226 guests, plays host to a weekly Tuesday night formal where college members can also bring guests. While students sit down to a three-course meal with coffee served afterwards, the formal is more relaxed than others with gowns not worn.

Although the email to students implies stealing from Hall has happened on numerous occasions, the incident earlier this week is believed to have taken place during Tuesday Hall when non-college guests would also have been present.

The thievery is particularly damaging for the college as it actively advertises Hall as a venue for private hire.

With prices starting at £64.75 per head, Balliol invites prospective guests to “step into our stunning hall to indulge in a truly remarkable dining experience”.

“The vaulted ceiling, adorned with exquisite portraits, creates a grandiose ambience that will leave you in awe. As night falls, candles flicker, creating a romantic atmosphere perfect for any meal, particularly a lavish banquet.”

Of course that “awe” might be slightly dulled if guests have a mix of different crockery as the college has had too much of it stolen by students.

The email to Balliol students described how staff “have to run around the College looking in every pantry to see if they can produce any extra, and if not then make do with what they can”.

“This might seem trivial to some of you, however the added stress when we are dealing with a busy evening is unnecessary and not what the Catering staff who work hard looking after you all should have to put up with.”

Balliol’s JCR President was approached for comment. 

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