Sept 21, 1951

Baker Residents Protest Dining Overcrowding

Like Topsy and inflation, lines at the Baker House dining hall have been growing and growing with each meal during the week. A total of 80 residents of Burton House have caused the bottleneck by signing up for commons meals at Baker House. Residents of Baker held a protest meeting last Wednesday night.

Dean Bowiditch attended part of the meeting and explained that the housing situation was very unsettled at the moment, and that all those in the administration connected with dining and housing services were doing their best to alleviate difficult conditions throughout the dormitory system. He could not offer any specific proposals at the time.

Proposals and Suggestions In its proposals on campus living, issued last spring, the administration suggested that 100 Burton House residents dine in Baker with the remainder to be accommodated in the Campus Room of the Graduate House. The Campus Room plan has apparently been proven unfeasible.

Student suggestions at the meeting ranged from creating special hours at Baker House for Burton House residents to making commons meals for Baker House residents optional instead of mandatory. This year all freshmen are required to eat either in Walker Memorial or in Baker House.

Oct 2 1951

Ninety Burton Freshmen Eat At Graduate House To Remove Baker Congestion

Provisions for ninety students to take commons meals in the Snack Bar of the Graduate House have been completed, Dean Bowditch has announced. The move alleviates the overcrowded conditions of the Baker House dining facilities. The students who made this shift yesterday are those freshmen living at Burton House who had originally contracted for their meals at Baker. Since all contract meals at the Institute are identical, these men are receiving the same food as everyone else and at the same price, $18.75 for fifteen meals Monday through Friday.

The overcrowding of the Baker House cafeteria resulted from a little confusion during the opening weeks of the term. Approximately 190 Burton House residents had signed for commons meals at Baker. After Baker residents, who are required to take commons meals there, had held a protest meeting twelve days ago, the administration decided to put into effect its proposals on campus living made last spring. At that time, it was suggested that only one-hundred Burton House residents dine in Baker with the remainder to be accommodated in the Graduate House. With this plan now working all Burton House upperclassmen may contract at Baker House, while all the freshmen who have not signed for commons at Walker Memorial now eat at the Snack Bar. No farther complications are expected.

MARCH 12, 1957

Bring Stoufer's To Baker In April; House Chairman Sees Boycott End

Baker House dineresidents will gain the reform for which they twice boycotted, when Stouffer's extends its campus food-management operation to the Baker House dining room immediately after the spring vacation (March 24-31).

Mr. R. Colin MacLaurin, Director of General Services, disclosed the change-over plans to The Tech early Sunday.

Baker House Chairman, H. Paul Zeiger '58, informed of the disclosure, called it “a great thing.” He said, “I doubt very much whether there will be any more boycotts now. We plan to give Stouffer's the utmost co-operation.” Included in the change-over will be the installation of a Stouffer dietitian and the assumption of control of food purchases by the firm. Mr. Robert Wheeler, presently the top-ranking Stouffer representative in Morss Hall, will also direct the Baker House dining operation.

Acquisition of the dietitian was the chief factor which delayed Stouffer's entry into Baker House, according to Mr. MacLaurin. At the beginning of this term, it was felt that a qualified dietitian could not be found before the end of the term. But the Stouffer representatives whom he consulted after the second boycott told Mr. MacLaurin that a dietitian will be available in two weeks. This date coincides with the beginning of the vacation. When the students resume classes, said Mr. MacLaurin, Stouffer's will already be there.

Mr. MacLaurin stated that he hopes there will be no more boycotts. Referring to the limited Morss Hall facilities, he said, “We can't feed them (the Baker diners) on this basis.” One Baker House resident, who had been active in organizing the first boycott, related the boycott to the change-over disclosure in this way: “The purpose of the boycott was to obtain better food. We ate Stouffer's food in Morss Hall and enjoyed it. This announcement is just the thing we boycotted for.”

“We Can't Feed Them”

Mr. MacLaurin did not consider the boycotts a factor in producing the change-over speed-up. “it's what we were going to do anyway,” he said.

Boycotts Reserved For Protest

Baker House residents agreed that there is now no cause for further boycotts. However, many cited the saving of the food, which would have been served on the day of the first boycott, for use five days later (the announced cause of the second boycott) as an example of the kind of thing which might cause protest action.

Cafeteria boycott 1958-60

Steve Parkoff writes: “Sometime during one of these years, we boycotted the Baker cafeteria. The Timeline says it was a vegetable boycott. But I remember the following. The food was not especially good during these years and there were many jokes about it. But one day the featured meat was Liver. it was pretty bad, overdone and bypassed by most of us. But the cafeteria served the same thing for three days straight. There may have been a meeting with the cafeteria staff - but I don't remember that. We had a house meeting one evening and voted to boycott the dining room. We all ate at the main cafeteria in Walker Memorial for at least one, maybe two weeks. The Baker House cafeteria was essentially empty. Finally, the cafeteria management gave in and met with the students and promised improved food. We returned to the cafeteria and the food was definitely better for the rest of the semester.”

“Maybe someone else can remember more specific dates and events. I know the boycott worked, but it was a pain. we had to run over to Walker after crew practice to make dinner before the cafeteria closed.”


Baker Takes Action on Commons System

Baker House Committee took actions Wednesday night to eliminate the re-using of food served at family-style meals. Baker Commons Committee was charged with sending letters stronqly advocating the discontinuance of the practice to Dean F. G. Fassett, Mr. Bert Wheeler, Stouffer's representative, and Mrs. Beulah McBride, Baker House Dietician.

The move came as part of a concerted effort by Baker House to improve its own situation. Earlier in the week, the new Baker House Commons Committee headed by Bob Ratner, '63, sent questionnaires to all Baker residents. The committee listed all the dishes offered since the beginning of the school year and asked that each be checked to indicate “good,” “Tolerable,” or “intolerable.” The Committee also asked for specific suggestions to improve commons, and included the question, “Would you take commons meals if it were not compulsory?” The conmnittee will use the results of the questionnaires as a basis for its brgaining with Stouffer's dining service.

George Lakoff, '62, former commons chairman, made the motion to send the letter. He said that members of the Baker House Student Dining Staff had been instructed to return to the kitchen all soup, vegetables, rolls, and butter that remained in the serving dishes and looked untouched after family-style dinners. The food returned, Lakoff said, is generally re-served at the cafeteria-style dinners, which follow family-style meals.

Bill Collins '65 writes:

I especially enjoyed reading the Dining Service notes since I was a waiter for two of my years there.

I think I was in love with Marlene, one of the managers. She was a few years older, slender bod, pixie-like smile, and other than giving me my assignments never gave me the time of day!

My accomplishments as waiter include dropping a tray full of dishes just as I was about the serve them to the table; and the very same shift, dropping a tray full of dishes I had just picked up from the table. Rousing cheers from the crowded hall both times. In fact, I was encouraged, but declined, to do an encore the next day. Hey, it released the tension and I was not the only clumsy waiter!

After dining hours for the day had ended, the Baker Dining Hall became the venue for many a glorious beer can fight. There is no feeling like throwing a beer can across the room from the balcony down to floor. That is until someone caught a full can of beer in the head. Campus police showed up and that fun was stopped for good.

Dining Service

Feb 2 1993

Meal Plan Proposal Criticized
By Hyun Soo Kim

“It sucks.”

Those words were frequently used to describe the dominant student opinion of the new house dining plan in surveys and interviews.

Students object parimarily to the p!an's prices, dining schedules, anrd its five-meal requirement. The new dining plan was approved by Senior Vice President. William R Dickson.'56 to start in September 1993.

The plan requires all residents of Baker House, MacGregor Houses McCormick Hall, and Next House to purchase a $1,150-a-year mea! plan good for five commons-style meals per week - breakfast, lunch or brunch at Baker, or dinners in any of the dining halls. Each meal would effectively cost $8.21, according to John T. McNeill, associate director of food services. Under the plan, additional meals may be purchased at a discount or with an additional declining balance for other cafeterias.

September 9, 1994

Students Now Run Baker Dining
By Daniel C. Stevenson
Associate News Editor

The recently reopened Baker House dining hall, now run by a student committee, is “a model for student empowerment,” according to Baker Dining Committee Chair Albert L. Hsu '95. “Students are calling all the shots,” Hsu said, including the serving times, the type and variety of food offered, and the pricing of meals.

The dining hall opened Wednesday night and served about 250 students. One long-time Baker worker said that she had never seen so many people eat at Baker in one night, Hsu said

April 29, 1997

Dining Group Plans Breakup of Monopoly
By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

Reopening other dining halls may adversely affect Baker House's dining operation, which is currently almost breaking even, said Jennifer R. Bautista '98, president of Baker.

The History of Dining at MIT

The History of Dining at MIT
by Michael Plasmeier '13 (Baker VPFS)

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