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An Exposé: The Caf Napkin Forum

The Caf. Now, if this article was a film, I would insert a clip of the Caf in slow motion, perhaps with intense opera music playing in the background. Orff’s O Fortuna would play as students topple over each other in the struggle to place their used dishes in the proper bin on the conveyer belt. It moves suddenly. One poor lad misses the white plastic bin, sending a mug tumbling to the floor. Pieces of caf mug shatter across the tile floor. He looks up in fear. People clap. He RUNS.


Truly a terrifying experience.


The Caf is not simply a gathering place among students, it is a peak into the nature of the student body. Look at any Hollywood movie that takes place in a typical American high school, and you will see a scene set in something that is eerily similar to our school’s finest dining location. Sadly, if you look around on a typical Tuesday at 6:00pm sharp, you will even notice the part about how various sects of the student body reign over different territories of the Caf rings true. The men’s sports section, located at the front under one of the TVs, is perhaps the most obvious to an untrained eye. Yes, the Caf provides a unique window into the social world which exists at Dickinson. The student life office, Dickinson starter packs, or even yik yak never came this close to truly understanding the Dickinson student body.


One of the more visible signs of this phenomena is none other than the Caf Napkin Forum. No one knows how long this mystical system has existed at Dickinson, but there is an unspoken understanding that the bulletin board to the right of the exit doors (right before the conveyer belt where you put your plates) is a mode of communication with the higher ups. A direct channel to the Caf administration one might say. It is also much more welcome (and effective) then going up to the little window (between the KOVE and the sandwich station) and banging on it loudly. Yup, if you’ve never noticed that little window, it’s there. I don’t recommend banging on it in frustration. Yes, the Caf Napkin Forum is the way to go.


A bit like the mysterious workings of the tooth fairy, or Santa Clause, if you leave a message written on a brown paper napkin, your wishes might be granted. I like to think of it as an expedited way of getting to the Wizard of Oz. Earlier this year, napkins with a plea for oatmeal for dinner appeared on the board week after week. Today, the Caf offers oatmeal at all meals. Coincidence?! I think not. Cryptic requests for WHOLE MILK have not yet been successful.


Please enjoy these examples of some napkins through the years:


This one is promoting gluten free awareness:

Sometimes they express gratitude:

Sometimes they express student’s greatest desires:

Sometimes they are appreciative as well as make requests:

Sometimes they are confusing and informative:

Sometimes they are very kind: 

And sometimes, they provoke inquiry:

And outrage: 

Yes, we are very grateful for The Caf Napkin Forum!

Isabel Figueroa

Dickinson '19

Isabel is a Senior at Dickinson College. She loves finding humor in humanity, old treasures in antique stores, and new ways to eat almond butter.
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