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Middlebury College "Sloppagees" Exposed 

Published January 31, 2011 at 2:53 p.m.

Apparently, Middlebury College has a problem with theft. Not theft of TI-84 calculators, Longchamps bags or Range Rovers. No, this problem is much more serious than that.

Midd students are stealing spoons. And forks. And knives. And other assorted dishware. And the college's food service staff is none too pleased about it. 

To stem the tide of flatware pilfering, the college created a series of videos (see below) featuring a vaguely menacing fictional character named Aunt Des whose red bouffant is as shellacked as her fiery fingernails are acrylic. In the videos, over-the-top Aunt Des, played by college communications staffer Maria Theresa Stadtmueller, commiserates with the college's frustrated dining services director and plots ways to retrieve the nicked dishes. 

We learn from watching the videos that Midd kids are lifting dishes and leaving them all over campus — in their suites, buried in couch cushions, even under the pews of the chapel. For shame! Aunt Des, who appears to be modeled after some sort of husky Jersey matriarch, is appauled by this behavior. She calls the students "sloppagees" and vows to hunt down the offenders. 

"You can dish it out, but you can't take it," Aunt Des vamps. 

We  learn that the cost of all this theft is $50,000. The Chronicle of Higher Education, which recently wrote about the videos, astutely notes that the money could be recouped by enrolling just one more student. A year of tuition, room and board at Midd rings in at breathtaking $52,000.

Of course, Aunt Des has her own Facebook page to help her cause. Soon Aunt Des cardboard cut-outs of Aunt Des will be found in strategic locations around campus. And there's even an official Aunt Des smartphone app in the works. Because you know, they're trying to save money. 

Not surprisingly, some students responded to the kooky video campaign with a skit of their own. In this clip, an Aunt Des impersonator goes searching for stolen dishes and find them in a vending machine, a clothes dryer and a Monopoly set — "Instead of collecting $200, I'm collecting cutlery," she laments.  

So far, the college has posted three Aunt Des chapters to YouTube. In the last installment, Aunt Des busts some kids, not for taking bong rips in their dorm room, but for hoarding milk crates full of cafeteria dishes. She vows to be ever-vigilant wherever missing silverware is concerned.

"I am just getting stawwwted," she says.

We'll see if the thieves come around to the error of their ways. My guess is, I doubt it. If they're anything like me, they'll keep stealing dishes until they have enough for at least 10 place settings. And like me, they'll be using their pinched dishes until they're well into their 30s. Why not, right? They paid for them.

Aunt Des videos: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3

(Via The Chronicle of Higher Education. You had me at the headline: "Middlebury College Invents a Pushy Redhead to Ease Dishware Theft.") 


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Lauren Ober

Lauren Ober

Lauren Ober was a Seven Days staff writer from 2009-2011.

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