Dining took ‘Uncommon’ approach to cut costs

The Class of 2013 may never know what it’s like to use a meal swipe at the Yale Law School dining hall, but due to cost-cutting measures taken by Yale Dining, they will know “Uncommon.”

In an e-mail to meal plan holders earlier this summer, Yale Dining Executive Director Rafi Taherian announced that students would no longer be able to use dining swipes and points at Yorkside Pizza, Wall Street Pizza and the Law School dining hall. In interviews, Yale Dining representatives said the opening of Uncommon – a “healthy natural and sustainable” convenience store located outside Commons dining hall – was part of a measure designed to reduce expenses and save jobs.

The Flex points and meal transfer programs required Yale Dining to pay each participating, outside establishment every time a student had a meal there. It cost seven dollars, for instance, when an undergraduate ate at the independently operated Law School dining hall.

But, in reality, it cost more than that. Yale Dining still assumed meal plan holders would eat every meal in a dining hall, and paid accordingly for food and supplies. Taherian said Yale Dining lost about $500,000 annually on transactions at the Law School, Yorkside and Wall Street Pizza.

“Options for cost cutting were not attractive,” Taherian said in an interview. “What are we going to do, close a college? Close Commons?”

After University President Richard Levin asked each University department to cut budgets 7.5 percent, Yale Dining turned to the meal transfer program as a potential avenue for savings. Yale Dining explored other options for cutting costs, but faced difficulties cutting staff because most of its staff is unionized under Local 35 of UNITE-HERE.

“By keeping swipes in Yale Dining operated facilities, Dining Services won’t be transferring out the board plan revenue which is desperately needed to support quality dining and service standards.” Director of Residential Dining Regenia Phillips said in an e-mail message.

With Uncommon, which opens during the second week of September, Yale Dining hopes to replicate the “grab and go” style of dining students found at the Law School. The store, open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., will offer sushi, wraps and healthier versions of traditional snack foods.

Uncommon will be located in a former manager’s office near the computer cluster outside of Commons dining hall, and will be staffed by Commons employees.

This year, dining points will be accepted at Uncommon and six other Yale Dining-operated facilities: Durfee’s, the Divinity Refectory, the Lobby at Kline Biology Tower, Donaldson Commons at the School of Management, Marigolds at the Yale School of Medicine, Thain Family Café and the Blue Dog Café at the McDougal Center in the Hall of Graduate Studies.


  • Tanley Henson

    Please remember that the adjective to describe nutritious foods is "healthful," not "healthy." The fare at Uncommon might help keep students healthy because the food is has health benefits; but the food itself isn't healthy!

  • Mike

    Wrong. See definition 3. Eat it, Tanley Henson.

    Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary:

    Main Entry: healthy
    Pronunciation: 'hel-thE
    Function: adjective
    Inflected Forms: health·i·er; -est
    1 : enjoying health and vigor of body, mind, or spirit
    2 : revealing a state of health
    3 : conducive to health


  • Y12

    The Yale Unions murder this school financially.

  • Josh P.

    Haha. You have been OWNED, Tanley.

  • Law

    wow… does this mean what I think it means? No more undergrads at the law school dining hall?

    That sounds great - but I wonder if it also means the law school will have to make cuts of its own to deal with the massive loss of revenue.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Mike, dictionaries record how people use the word, not what's correct.


    On the other hand, #6's super-secret book of Correct Words DOES record what's Correct and what merely is "how people use the word"

  • Anonymous

    @#3, 17 billion in the endowment, Yale seems unmurdered.

    Meanwhile, you're essentially saying, "if only we could have laid off some working class New Haveners, I could still swipe at Yorkside!" How insane.

  • KT '09

    #5 is right: the Law School dining hall is going to lose revenue, but the rest of dining services only cares about their own turf. What would have made the most sense would have been to simply look at how often undergrads were transferring away and make purchasing decisions based on that, since there was clearly demand by undergraduates for the fare the Law School served, which will not be replicated by "Uncommon."

    "Yale Dining still assumed meal plan holders would eat every meal in a dining hall, and paid accordingly for food and supplies. Taherian said Yale Dining lost about $500,000 annually on transactions at the Law School, Yorkside and Wall Street Pizza."

    Any smart business person adjusts purchasing decisions based on demonstrated demand.

  • RE: "healthful"

    See also the usage note from dictionary.com:

    'Usage Note: The distinction in meaning between healthy ("possessing good health") and healthful ("conducive to good health") was ascribed to the two terms only as late as the 1880s. This distinction, though tenaciously supported by some critics, is belied by citational evidence—healthy has been used to mean "healthful" since the 16th century. Use of healthy in this sense is to be found in the works of many distinguished writers, with this example from John Locke being typical: "Gardening . . . and working in wood, are fit and healthy recreations for a man of study or business."'

    As for #6, take a sociolinguistics class (or just intro) before you try to talk about correctness in language.

  • Johnny B