YCC aims for open dining

If the Yale College Council gets its way, undergraduates will soon be able to grab meals at nearly any residential college dining hall, regardless of their own college affiliations.

In a meeting on Sunday night, YCC members voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the Council of Masters to abolish transfer restrictions in all college dining halls with the single exception of Berkeley College, which serves an exclusively organic menu under the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Administrators, including Council of Masters Chair Judith Krauss and Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, have said they support abolishing dining hall transfer restrictions.

Although Salovey expressed his support for such a policy at a YCC meeting last week, YCC President Andrew Cedar ’06 said the policy decision ultimately rests with the residential college masters themselves. The YCC plans to submit the resolution for consideration at the Council of Masters’ closed meeting on Friday and hopes the policy will become effective as soon as next Monday.

The YCC had planned to have a petition on YaleStation for undergraduates to sign beginning today, but experienced technical difficulties, YCC Vice President Chance Carlisle ’05 said.

Instead, YCC members will have paper petitions available at dining halls this week for students to sign to show support for the resolution when the YCC presents it to the Council of Masters on Friday, he said.

Salovey said he supports eliminating restrictions and hopes the Council of Masters implements the YCC’s plan.

“I think it’s worth an experiment to try and find out, so I would be in favor of trying nearly anything on a trial basis to see if we couldn’t produce a better and fairer situation than the current one,” Salovey said.

Krauss, master of Silliman College, said many students and masters are frustrated with the overcrowding of dining halls but cautioned that the YCC might be better served by petitioning the residential college councils instead of the masters.

“Masters didn’t implement dining hall restrictions in a vacuum,” Krauss said in an e-mail. “They did it in response to an expressed student need in their college.”

Krauss said she believes that most masters would be amenable to a moratorium on transfer restrictions if their college councils expressed a willingness to try it.

YCC Representative R. David Edelman ’07, who co-authored the resolution with Carlisle, said he thinks transfer restrictions at college dining halls foster college isolationism.

“The current system is really against what Yale stands for,” Edelman said. “The only way the system is going to fix itself is to throw all the restrictions out at the same time.”

The only two YCC members to vote against the proposal were representatives from newly-renovated Pierson College, which currently maintains transfer restrictions. Pierson YCC Representative Jayson Tischler ’07 said the constant crowding of the Pierson’s dining hall has forced the college to establish restrictions on transfers. Pierson’s dining hall and kitchen sustained significant damage in the first month of the school year due to overcrowding, Tischler said.

Edelman said the lift of restrictions initially would cause overcrowding in some of the more popular dining halls, but he said he thinks the open transfer policy would eventually reach equilibrium. The YCC’s resolution omitted Berkeley, Edelman said, because the dining hall must retain its transfer restrictions to maintain the financial solvency of its unique organic food program.

“Berkeley would go broke if they had to let in all the transfers that show up every day,” Edelman said.

Saybrook College, one of several colleges operating with transfer restrictions, would be open to the YCC’s plan, Saybrook Master Mary Miller said.

“I’d be willing to try and see what things are like without dining restrictions,” said Miller, who said she leaves decisions regarding restrictions at Saybrook’s dining hall to the Saybrook College Council.

Carlisle said the continuing schedule of residential college renovations will require a different dining hall to be shut down each year for the next several years, which is one reason why he co-authored the proposal to eliminate transfer restrictions.

“Each year, the more dining halls that are shut down, the more stress there is going to be,” Carlisle said.

He added that each dining hall that imposes restrictions increases the relative amount of traffic in the dining halls that remain open to all students. To help alleviate this stress, the resolution also asks that Yale University Dining Services reconsider opening Commons on Sunday nights next semester.

Even if the Council of Masters chooses to implement the open dining hall policy, individual college masters still will retain the authority of instituting transfer restrictions if they so chose.

Students wait to be swiped into the Berkeley dining hall Monday evening. If a new YCC proposal is adopted, residential colleges - with the exception of Berkeley - may loosen their restrictions on dining hall transfers.
Stephanie Spiers
Students wait to be swiped into the Berkeley dining hall Monday evening. If a new YCC proposal is adopted, residential colleges - with the exception of Berkeley - may loosen their restrictions on dining hall transfers.

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