Expectant brunchers in Trumbull College — including Janet Henrich, the college’s master — lined up Saturday at the usual time, 11 a.m., as in past years. But they were surprised to find that the meal now starts half an hour later.
The new brunch time is just one of several changes to hit the dining halls this year. While some of the changes emerged from collaboration with the Yale College Council, others were several years in the making for Yale Dining, and still others came in response to budgetary concerns.
Some of the changes are meeting with backlash. The Morse College Council executive board met Sunday night to discuss issues with the college’s newly renovated dining hall, including changes to the salad bar. Rather than the traditional setup, where students select from a range of vegetables and other toppings, the dining halls of Commons and Morse, Berkeley, Jonathan Edwards, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges now feature about four pre-determined salads: ingredients for a lettuce, grain, roasted vegetable and bean salad.
Michelle Glienke ’11, president of the Morse College Council, said the food in Morse seems to be disappearing faster without the option of a traditional salad bar. But Rafi Taherian, executive director of Yale Dining, said the new format is intended to make a better salad.
“People go to the salad bar with no end in mind,” Taherian said. “[Now] whatever you decide, it was meant to be that way … so there’s an end in mind.”
Regenia Phillips, director of residential dining, said the success of the current salad bar changes will determine if they are expanded to every dining hall. Although both she and Taherian said initial feedback has been positive, seven students interviewed said they miss the variety provided by the traditional salad bar format.
“I was eating in one of the dining halls, and all of the prepared salads had meat in them,” Archit Sheth-Shah ’13 said. “Vegetarians can’t eat that kind of stuff.”
Taherian and Phillips could not be reached over the weekend for comment on whether the salad bar changes, or the move to a later brunch time, are the result of budget cuts.
At Sunday’s meeting, the MCC board members also noted the popularity of their dining hall has led to shortages in food. Morse’s dining hall is the closest dining hall for athletes leaving Payne-Whitney Gymnasium and students in Ezra Stiles College living in Swing Space. Since Ezra Stiles’ dining hall is still under construction, these three student groups are converging on a dining hall that is not yet fully finished, Sheth-Shah said.
“One problem is that we have been an immensely popular place to eat the last few days, and so the crowds have been larger than expected,” Morse College Master Frank Keil said in an e-mail. “But the entire staff has been very responsive to this.”
Morse got another boost in visitors Sunday morning as one of two dining halls that served brunch while the others (except Calhoun) closed for the Fall Festival on Old Campus. Many students complained that they were not notified that their dining halls would not only open half an hour later for brunch on Saturday, but, come Sunday, not at all.
The Yale College Council e-mailed at least some members of the student body on Saturday night to promote the festival, but some students said word of dining hall closures was not prominent and others said they did not receive the e-mail at all. Phillips told the News she asked the YCC to e-mail the student body because she is not able to do so herself.
Still, YCC Treasurer Brandon Levin ’13 said the festival was a success, with the YCC spending $10,000 less than last year and serving three times as much food.
Meanwhile, Taherian said budget issues forced Yale Dining to close Donaldson Commons at the School of Management, a favorite spot for students taking classes on Science Hill. The move was a response to dwindling student customers, Taherian said, adding that the decision was made by members of the SOM administration.
“We could no longer sustain that financial loss,” Taherian said.
He pointed to the numerous food carts on Prospect Street, as well as Lobby at Klein Biology Tower, as examples of locations in the area where students can eat. In response to the closing of Donaldson Commons, Lobby at KBT will expand its selection of “grab-and-go” options, and students can transfer their lunchtime meal swipes to purchase these options, Taherian said.
Not all changes this year are motivated by budget issues. At the end of last year, the Yale College Council presented Yale Dining with a list of suggestions to improve students’ experiences in dining halls and retail outlets, Phillips said. After considering these changes, Phillips said Yale Dining has increased the number of guest swipes on all meal plans to five, up from three in some cases and zero in others. Also in response to requests from the YCC, Yale Dining is looking at opening dining halls a day or two earlier in the spring semester to give students who arrive early a place to eat, Phillips said.
Yale Dining has extended the transfer period for lunchtime meal swipes at retail outlets such as Durfee’s and Uncommon until 2:30 p.m. instead of 2:00 p.m. But some students may be less concerned with the extended lunch hour and more upset about the new closing time of the campus convenience store. Formerly there to satisfy late-night cravings until 2 a.m., Durfee’s now closes at 10 p.m. daily, according to the Yale Dining website. But a hand-written sign observed on Durfee’s door Sunday night says the store will resume late-night hours, listed as 2:30 a.m., later this month. Phillips and Taherian could not be reached for comment.
David Burt and Grace Patuwo contributed reporting.