Columbia is reporting a rash of thefts on campus that have resulted in an estimated $5,000 worth of lost property each week.
But before concerned students go out and purchase expensive security measures, it should be noted that all reported thefts are of a single item: Nutella.
As first reported by the Columbia Spectator, students just can't seem to get enough of the frosting-like chocolate-hazelnut spread, and may be swiping as much as 100 pounds of the sweet stuff a day from campus dining halls.
"The demand [for Nutella] has been greater than originally expected," Dining Services executive director Vicki Dunn told the Spectator in an email. "Students have been filling cups of Nutella to-go in Ferris Booth Commons and taking the full jars out of John Jay, which means we're going through product faster than anticipated."
Since last month, when Dining Services began offering Nutella to students on a daily basis, covering the cost of Columbia's unhealthy habit has set the university back some $5,000 per week according to Columbia College Student Council rep Peter Bailinson.
But some are saying that the problem is being exaggerated, and Nutella raids aren't all that widespread.
The New York Times talked to a university spokeswoman who said the figures being reported are "speculative and inaccurate" and were "roughly 10 times greater than the actual figures."
Some have pointed out that if Dining was truly spending $5,000 a week on 100 pounds of Nutella, it was clearly buying its stock in the wrong place.
But the problem is obviously real enough for Dining to consider pulling the plug on certain "luxury" items, according to Bailinson.
"When you're paying that much for a dining plan, some people feel a bit more entitled to taking things from the dining hall," Bailinson told the Spectator. "But what they don't realize is that dining uses any extra money to get awesome new items like Nutella, almond butter, and to make structural changes like the JJ's renovation."
Dining insists it won't stop serving Nutella, but may cut back on more expensive comestibles "like lobster tails."
[photos via WikiMedia, AP]