Law School dining hall sees decline in business

Kim Dwyer is a mother who hates to say no to her kids, especially when they are hungry. But since undergraduates can no longer “double swipe,” while working the register at the Law School dining hall this year, she often has no choice.

Following a change in University Dining Services policy this year, students on a meal plan can no longer swipe twice — once for lunch and once for groceries after skipping breakfast — at the Law School dining hall and other Yale retail dining locations. Officials said the decision, which was made to keep students’ meal plan dollars within the UDS’ coffers, has led to a sharp decline in the number of undergraduates eating at these facilities.

A student swipes at a dining hall terminal. Since the prohibition of “double swiping,” University Dining Services retains more student meal dollars.
Aileen Agricola
A student swipes at a dining hall terminal. Since the prohibition of “double swiping,” University Dining Services retains more student meal dollars.

Undergraduates interviewed said they have not been pleased with the new policy, which has kept many away from retail dining halls on campus this semester. The number of College students in the Law School dining hall has been reduced to about one-third of what it was last year, Ernst Huff, associate vice president for Student Financial and Administrative Services, told the News this week.

Yale College Council Secretary David Narotsky ’09 said the YCC raised students’ concerns to the administration, but does not think the policy change will be reversed, because it was made simply to

“[Dining Services was] just correcting a loophole,” he said. “It’s not something the YCC can get changed.”

Because the Law School dining hall is independent of University Dining Services, when students used transfer swipes, they were indirectly transferring some of their board dollars to the Law School dining hall, Huff said. With the change, University Dining Services is saving money, he said.

The Law School dining hall is the most centrally located and popular of the University’s retail dining locations, which allow students to use their swipes to purchase food and groceries for a designated sum, Huff said.

Other retail locations, all of which have switched to the new swiping policy, include the Divinity School, the School of Management, the Blue Dog Cafe at the Hall of Graduate Studies and Marigolds at the Medical School.

The double-swipe option was implemented within the last four years by University Dining Services so that students could get food from Commons or a residential college dining hall on their way to class and come back for lunch later, Huff said, but proved costly to University Dining Services as resourceful students realized they could use the second swipe to stock their refrigerators before swiping again for lunch.

Law School spokeswoman Janet Conroy said the decrease in undergraduates eating in the Law School dining hall has led to an increase in the number of law students that purchase food there.

But law students and dining hall employees interviewed said despite the policy change, few law students actually purchase food from the dining hall.

Ben Siracusa LAW ’09 said cost-conscious law students often eat at the Law School, but many bring their own food from home or from a local restaurant.

Dwyer, a cashier at the Law School dining hall, said the lack of campus housing for law students affects the extent to which they buy food in the Law School dining hall.

She said she misses the undergraduates, because they kept her busy.

“Undergraduates made my day exciting,” she said. “I feel bad telling kids that they can’t get the food they want when they want it.”

With the departure of so many undergraduate customers from the Law School dining hall, seven employees were reassigned to other dining halls because of decreased demand, Conroy said.

This year’s elimination of dinner service at the Law School, partially because of a lack of on-campus dormitory space for law students, also led to the new assignment for these employees.

Undergraduates interviewed said they miss being able to double swipe. Diana Wang ’10 said she switched to the 14-meal plan because she no longer had the option to double swipe at the Law School dining hall. But she still frequents the Law School dining hall for lunch, she said, because she loves the wraps they serve.

“It’s horrible,” Wang said. “I don’t know anyone who approves of the new policy.”

Warren Speth ’11 said that given the high cost of meal plans — and the fact that they are required for students living on campus — students should have the flexibility to choose custom-made wraps over all-you-can-eat offerings in college dining halls.

“If we have to be on a meal plan, we should be able to eat wherever we want,” he said.

But Jennifer Broxmeyer LAW ’09 said the line for the register has decreased with the departure of so many undergraduates, which law students said has made the environment warmer.

“People aren’t loading up on Snapples anymore,” Siracusa agreed. “There are definitely fewer people around.”

The Law School’s late-night coffee and snack shop stays open daily until 9 p.m., an hour later than last year.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    It is too bad that UDS has closed the "loophole". I abused the loophole in my four years at Yale, probably using my breakfast swipe at the Law School or at Donaldson Commons 80% of the weekdays in my four years at Yale. As someone who picked classes starting at 11:30 or later (and who liked to stay up till 3 AM), I was a very loyal double swiper. Too bad the current Yale students can no longer experience the thrill of snagging the last antioxidant Arizona on the Law School dining hall shelf.

  • Anonymous

    Well at least we can still eat in the Law School at all. I hope that doesn't change, too!

  • Anonymous

    So it sounds like they're actually losing money in an attempt to make money?

  • Anonymous

    Yale is freakin' CHEAP. Period.

  • sammy

    Dining service is a huge monopoly and since switching to new managment it has become even worse the food and the quality has declined. Don't force us to buy meal plans and then not provide services…what a racket!