By Samantha Lund
When students drop their dishes in the Anderson University Center, everyone claps. It is a Pacific Lutheran University tradition, and it has been for years.
However, some students have frowned on our tradition, concerned this promotes singling out and bullying. In the attempt to create a bully-free campus, our clapping has become a casualty. Rather than mourn it, let’s bring it back.
Students drop things. It is in our nature. Expecting thousands of people to eat in a dining hall every night without having any dishes dropped is insane — hence the plastic dishes we get like toddlers.
No matter how many times we drop things, we are still embarrassed. But PLU has a tradition to lighten the mood and create a friendly atmosphere — when someone drops a dish, everyone claps.
The clapping is a joke. It is a sarcastic “atta boy” for the dish dropper. The tradition is supposed to save the dropper from embarrassment and maybe give them the opportunity to turn it into a funny situation rather than an awkward one.
Groups of students have debated about whether or not the clapping could be considered bullying. Drawing attention to students who drop things and “singling them out” by clapping can be construed as bullying, I guess.
As far as I am concerned, there are two great things about the clapping: the student gets to play it off as a joke, and it brings the students together. Any tradition that brings students together, even for a few seconds, is a good one.
The great thing about PLU is our family atmosphere. We all are friends and enjoy having each other around. The clapping is just another one of our little family’s jokes. Of course these were all just theories, since I had never been a dish dropper. That is, until I decided to test my theories.
At 6 p.m. the busiest time of dinner, I became a dish dropper. I was having dinner with friends, when I did it. I did the unthinkable with fear in my heart. I dropped a cup.
Just kidding — I launched that cup. I used my elbow to shoot it to the other side of the aisle and then stood to pick it up.
At first it was quiet, and that was the most awkward second of my life, but then the clapping started and the mood lightened. I was much less embarrassed than I thought I would be. It really is not like ripping a band-aid off — it’s more like telling a good joke.
There will always be the argument of history. The Ancient Greeks believed that clapping when dropping a plate gave you good luck. Other traditions have said that breaking things brings bad spirits into the air, and we need to clap to scare them away. If anything, we are upholding old traditions.
We all love our school. We all love our traditions, so let’s not let them die. Next time someone drops a dish, give them a round of applause. 🅼