Silliman tops dining survey

No caption.
No caption. Photo by Greta Stetson.

Silliman students claiming their dining hall’s superiority now have numbers to back up their cause.

The results of Yale Dining’s fall survey, obtained by the News, rank Silliman College’s dining hall at the top of the 12 residential colleges, Commons and the Hall of Graduate Studies in both service and food quality. Saybrook College placed last in both categories. Thirty-one percent of undergraduates participated in the survey in September, opining on a wide range of topics including food presentation and the appeal of new menu items.

Survey participants gave scores on a four-point scale, awarding Yale Dining a 3.5 overall service rating, and a 3.09 overall food rating. Students gave Silliman ratings of 3.80 and 3.44 for service and food, respectively; Saybrook’s offerings received 3.19 and 2.79. Other survey categories included food presentation and flavor, for which grill items, added to menus last spring, received top marks of 3.24. Deli bar items, however, lagged with a score of 2.95.

Director of Residential Dining Regenia Phillips said the twice-yearly survey lets Yale Dining identify those colleges that receive the highest marks, discuss their practice policies and respond to student comments.

“We’re a responsive department,” Phillips said. “We care about student feedback.”

Saybrook Dining Hall Manager Tom Helland said the survey results were disappointing, and that it is difficult for employees to work so hard only to receive lackluster reviews. But he added that he receives complimentary comment cards from satisfied eaters every day.

“It’s an internal tool we use to try to be better,” Helland said. “We’ve just got to get those kids who leave the comments to get online.”

Saybrugian Kendall Wilson ’11 agreed with the survey’s findings, saying the food quality in Saybrook does not measure up to other colleges. Still, she said, she likes to eat most of her meals in her residential college dining hall because of the welcoming staff.

“They’re very accommodating,” she said.

Reana Ingram, who works the grill in Silliman, said constant feedback adds to the connection between employees and students. When workers know of students with specific food allergies, they can be more conscious of dishes that contain dangerous allergens, she said.

Four students eating in Silliman’s dining hall Thursday agreed that the kitchen’s staff is noteworthy for its approachability.

“The Silliman dining staff is nice, friendly and familiar,” Sillimander Omar Njie ’13 said. “They know my name, and I know their names.”

But four others said they do not place much stake in the differences among the dining halls, choosing to eat wherever is convenient. Stilesian Katie Donley ’13 said her lunch venue changes depending on her classes and the weather.

“For lunch and dinner, I try to mix it up,” she said.

Phillips said students’ feelings toward different dining halls depend on their relationship to each college.

But it is not just students who develop a relationship with their dining hall. Jackie Jefferson, a Silliman dining hall employee, she said she is not sure what makes Silliman unique, but that “we just do what we do.”

“This has become my home,” Jefferson said. “When I’m at home, I just want to be here.”

Berkeley College came in second in food, and Davenport and Trumbull colleges tied second place in service.

Drew Henderson contributed reporting.


  • y07

    Oh the days of yore, when you had no chance of getting into Berkeley unless you were a student there and when Silliman was considered possibly the worst dining hall on campus. By “days of yore,” I mean 2006.

  • Stew da man!

    No surprise there…

  • disagree

    I can not believe Commons is up there. It is not very good on food. And Saybrook–doesn’t it have the same exact food as Branford as they share kitchens?

    Personally, I feel JE’s food is actually quite good (yeah, I’m in JE)–much better than Commons and Branford and I feel on par with Silliman, Davenport and Trumbull, which I frequent.

  • y09

    It’s funny, because Saybrook and Branford share a kitchen, so the food is *exactly* the same.

  • Branford graduate

    It’s the same food, but in Branford, it tastes better.

  • BR 2010

    I’m surprised that Branford beat JE foodwise. The food in Branford is pretty bad this year. I eat in a different dining hall whenever I can.

  • SY’11

    It is weird, but I have to agree with Branford grad. Things just taste way better in Branford than in Saybrook.

    …but the fact that people prefer HGS to Saybrook is very unsettling.

  • robert99

    Hooray for the “peoples college”

  • John_D

    I think that the competition between dining halls helps to ensure high-quality food at Yale.

    When people ask me what was really different about Yale, as compared with other universities, I mention: (1) the libraries (you can find so much of what you need – right away); (2) arts and culture (amazing offerings – wish I had gone to more of them); and (3) the dining halls (good food is so hard to find at other universities). Yes, the profs and students are excellent, but you can find excellent profs and students elsewhere as well, certainly in selective programs.

  • anon

    saybrook got low scores cause of the mean woman who swipes cards…

  • me

    Branford and Saybrook share the same kitchen, but that’s only part of it. You also have to consider the grill, the salad/deli bars, and even the amount of time that the food stays in warming trays. And that’s why Saybrook is last.

  • 2011

    Stiles has the best dining hall staff by far–Berkley has the worst.

  • anonymous

    yet saybrook’s always packed at lunch and dinner… must be the people

  • to anon

    you HAVE to be kidding. Linda is absolutely the NICEST dining hall employee ever. If you want to talk about mean, let’s talk about JE…

  • ?

    Were any of the staff interviewed for this article? One evening recently as I was swiping for an early dinner, the staff who were working that evening were apologizing to everyone who came in for how “nasty” the dinner was, and encouraging us to write to Yale dining and complain. And they were right…dinner that night was pretty bad. It made me sad that they had worked so hard that night to prepare food that they knew was going to be disappointing. And it also makes me think that the staff don’t have enough input or room to take measures to improve the food on a meal to meal basis.

  • H.

    Davenport would be No. 1 if they brought back Ginger Ale.

  • 0Y8

    Its so bizarre to imagine dining halls that aren’t Berkeley even coming close.. I remember when you used to have to line up at 4:30 to get into dinner at Berkeley and people forged Berkeley stickers to put on Calhoun IDs

  • Y09

    Why is JE so low? They had such good food and service last year. On the contrary, Pierson’s food is always understocked and they are always out of coffee.

  • Hmm

    Are we forgetting that Silliman is also the biggest college? Obviously they got the most votes. Well done survey, YDN. Well done.