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.