Some Yalies spent the extra money from their strike rebate checks on alcohol. Some went shopping. But Santanov Chaudhuri ’06 is going home for the holidays.
By eating out for only one meal a day, Chaudhuri managed to save around $10 every day, he said. With money he made working, he now has nearly the exact amount he needs to buy a ticket home to India, and will only have to take out a small loan from the financial aid office, he said.
“You don’t get tickets cheaper than $1400,” Chaudhuri said. “[Without the strike], I probably would have been able to go home, but I would have had to take out a bigger loan.”
Reactions were mixed on the first day of restored “normalcy” in the residential college dining halls. While some lamented the loss of extra income, many welcomed the chance to reunite with their fellow Branfordians, Sillimanders and Morsels over chicken, roast beef and Yukon gold potatoes.
Members of locals 34 and 35 nearly unanimously ratified eight-year contracts Friday, heralded the official end to their three-week strike. As former strikers returned Monday, dining halls resumed operation and classes moved back on campus, life at Yale began to settle back into its old routine. For some, the end of the strike meant attending class in a lecture hall instead of a local bar or sleeping past 7:30 a.m., but most students viewed a return to the dining halls as the defining feature of normalcy.
Union members were also pleased to reopen the dining halls. Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06, who works in the Davenport dining hall and is a member of Local 35, said he has already scheduled hours to work this weekend. He cast a vote in favor of the new contracts last Friday, he said.
“That’s one of the most important votes I’ll ever be able to cast,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.
Commons dining hall manager Bob Alberino said he and the Local 35 members he works with had brunch together Monday morning to try to restore cohesion.
“it’s great to have them back,” Alberino said.
The Davenport College master and dean held a reception for all Davenport workers and several colleges hung banners welcoming their returning staff.
Seth Niedermayer ’06 said he is “very happy” the strike is over. Shouts from the picket lines would wake him up every morning during the strike, he said, and he was sometimes unable to hear his professors lecture.
“Most of our suite was pretty sick of the strike,” Niedermayer said. “[The picketers] were pretty annoying and loud and not respectful of students here. We have to live here, so we didn’t appreciate it.”
Niedermayer added that the opportunity to eat in dining halls might improve his health.
“We ate Ramen [noodles] for a week, and then took our rebate checks and went to the liquor store,” Niedermayer said of himself and his suitemates. “I might eat a little better now.”
Aubrey Smith ’04, a member of the women’s basketball team, said dining halls make it easier for her to eat after practice and for the team to hold team dinners. She also enjoys seeing familiar faces — both her fellow Davenporters’ and those of the dining hall workers.
“It’s definitely more of a family atmosphere,” Smith said. “The extra $20 or whatever a week didn’t make that big of a deal.”
But students who were making significant amounts of money off their rebate checks said they will miss the extra money.
John Mission ’05, a work-study student, said he made $50-60 per week during the strike by buying groceries to provide for most of his meals. With that extra cash in his pocket, he said, he hoped to be able to work fewer hours this year.
“I was banking on it going all semester,” Mission said. “I was like, one more month, one more month.”
Mission, a member of the a cappella group The Alley Cats, said between eating rush meals and “brown-bagging it,” he hardly saw his friends during the strike. He is glad to have dining halls back for the social opportunities they provide, he said, but given a choice, he would rather be buying groceries.
Berkeley College freshman counselor Jim Burke ’04 said he was glad the dining halls are back because he worried that without them, the freshmen would not have a chance to get to know other members of their class.
Along with meeting more students, freshmen also got the opportunity to meet the dining hall workers who will swipe their cards and scoop their lasagna on a daily basis.
Terri Haynes, a member of Local 35 who works in the Branford dining hall, made Branfordians flavored iced coffee as a treat to celebrate the reopening of dining halls. She said she saw the strike as a necessary move for the unions, but said it hurt both workers and students.
“I think it was well worth it because we got the things that we want,” Haynes said. “We benefitted, but now you’re going to get extra special care.”