Without undergrads, Law School dining hall sees losses

Budgetary concerns have led Yale Dining Services to bar undergraduates from transferring their meal plan swipes to the Law School dining hall.
Budgetary concerns have led Yale Dining Services to bar undergraduates from transferring their meal plan swipes to the Law School dining hall. Photo by Nikita Lalwani.

Sharon Bowes, who works at the Law School dining hall, used to make four pizzas a day. But now — ever since the dining hall stopped accepting undergraduate dining points and meal transfers — she puts out only two or three.

“We miss the undergraduates more than you can tell,” she said.

And she is not the only one: The dining hall has lost around 260 transactions a day — an annual loss of around $250,000 — since Yale Dining stopped allowing students to use dining points at the Law School in July, said Law School spokeswoman Jan Conroy. Yale Dining limited undergraduate access to all locations it did not own — which also included Yorkside Pizza and Wall Street Pizza — for financial reasons, Yale Dining Executive Director Rafi Taherian said in an e-mail to undergraduates June 30.

“Everyone had to respond to new financial challenges,” Taherian said in an e-mail to the News on Monday. “We implemented a number of difficult solutions, and we continue to monitor those closely.”

To compensate for the decrease in business, Conroy said, the Law School dining hall stopped serving evening meals, reduced quantities of food and supplies purchased, and transferred some of their staff to other dining halls within the University. The dining hall is also trying to expand its evening catering service.

“There is no simple way to offset this loss,” Conroy said. “We all have to be creative in these difficult times.”

But the dining hall is much quieter these days, four dining hall managers said.

Chef Kim Saunders said she used to enjoy serving undergraduates, who were always happy with the food.

“They used to greet me every day with, ‘Chef Kim, what are we having tomorrow to eat?’ ” Saunders said. “Some still come by, give me a hug and tell me they miss the delicious food, but there’s nothing I can do.”

Sarah Allen, a dining hall retail specialist, said the undergraduates were always polite and friendly, often allowing law school students who were in a rush to move ahead of them in line. She said she used to make 120 wraps a day, and the line for wraps would stretch from her station out the door.

“But there’s nobody in here right now,” she said. “We don’t see many law school students.”

Still, three law school students interviewed said they prefer having a dining hall with shorter lines and less noise.

Ben Stern LAW ’11 said that without undergraduates, more law school students can now use the dining hall to study. And because the dining hall remains open until 7 p.m., though it stops serving food at 2 p.m., it has become more of a hub of activity for law students, he said.

“Also, law students no longer have to wrestle with the ethics of exercising their privilege to cut undergrads in line,” Stern said.

Law School Dining Hall Manager Jim Barnett said the dining hall had high appeal to undergraduates both because of the variety of the food offered as well as its proximity to the law school auditorium, where many undergraduate lectures are held. The Law School Dining Hall’s daily menu includes wraps, pizza, sandwiches, sushi, soups and hot entrees.

Five undergraduates interviewed said they used to appreciate the variety in the Law School dining hall menu selection.

“I liked it because I could get a big burger and fries or pizza, or, if I felt like it, I could get yogurt and candy to go. There was variety.” Avinash Gandhi ’10 said. “But now that Durfee’s lets us swipe for lunch, it doesn’t really matter to me if the Law School is open.”

Uncommon, the Yale Dining convenience store located near Commons, also allows undergraduates to transfer meal swipes.

The Law School Dining Hall is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday, 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. It still accepts undergraduate Eli Bucks, which allow students to use money in the form of points at certain on-campus retail locations.

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