The votes are in, and Silliman is the winner.
The results of a March 1 Yale Daily News survey — conducted after Yale Dining declined to publicize the full results of its survey on dining satisfaction — indicate that Silliman students are most satisfied with their dining hall, while students in Morse expressed the least satisfaction with theirs. Students across all 12 colleges also made general recommendations about menus and dining hours, with 77 percent of the more than 1,700 students who took the survey asking that dinner hours run later.
Director of Residential Dining Regenia Philips said Dining will look into the possibility of changing operating hours and addressing the other issues raised in the survey.
“Student preferences always influence the decisions we make,” she said, noting that while Dining tries to accommodate student preferences, it also tries to make sure that students with diverse preferences are accommodated.
The most common change students said they would like to see was the addition of later eating hours, with 77 percent of students asking for dinner to run past 7 p.m, and 52 percent wanting lunch to go later than 1:30 p.m.
“A lot of people have practices, rehearsals or other commitments that run late, and it would be nice if they could eat dinner without being rushed,” said Andres Fuentes-Afflick ’13. “People are frustrated by [the hours], and it could be avoided.”
He added that later dinner hours might also present health benefits to students, since many get hungry after eating an early dinner and buy junk food at Durfee’s and Gourmet Heaven for a late-night snack.
Twenty-three percent of students said the current dinner hours work well for them, while 45 percent of students said current lunch hours work well for them.
When asked which types of foods they wanted more of, students expressed most interest in having more vegetables, and then in having more meat and poultry entrees. The least popular dishes were vegetarian and vegan entrees and ethnic food — 36 percent of respondents wanted to see them diminished.
Will Jordan ’13 said that while he recognizes the need to make vegetarian options available, he believes the dining halls overdo it.
“I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys tofu ravioli or tofu apple crisp,” he said. “I would appreciate the dining halls trying to make sure that I, as well as the vegetarians, enjoy dinner.”
But some students depend on these dishes. Carter Reese ’13 said that, as a vegetarian, he would prefer to see more vegetarian options, especially at lunch. He said he generally enjoys the vegetarian items, but added that he does not usually like the vegan entrées.
Silliman chef Stu Comens, who helps plan Yale’s menus, said he has noticed that the vegan options tend to be less popular than the vegetarian options. He added that it is difficult to mass-produce appealing vegan options for the roughly 1 percent of students who observe that diet.
Comens, whose dining hall received the highest satisfaction ratings, added that Dining tries to be responsive to student requests in planning its menus, but that it is up to students to speak up and convey to Dining what they want to see in the dining halls.
The survey gave students the opportunity to rank dining halls on quality of food and quality of service. After Silliman, the highest-ranked colleges were Trumbull and Davenport. Besides Morse, the lowest-ranked were Timothy Dwight and Jonathan Edwards.
Philips said the variations between dining halls are not major, and the small differences probably stem from the staff of the dining halls, since the menus are the same across all dining halls.
Physical facilities may also play a role. Comens said that because of the way Silliman is designed, he cooks the food right behind the serving line, and can see students and respond to them while working on the food.
He added that he likes to chat with students and hear their thoughts on the food, and that this also helps improve the cooking — and the relationship between the students and the staff. “I’m right there on the serving line. I can do a lot more to keep the food hot and fresh,” he said.
Jeff Hughes, assistant manager for Morse, said Morse’s relatively low satisfaction ratings can be attributed to the fact that the dining hall is operating out of a temporary kitchen this year, as the joint Ezra Stiles-Morse kitchen is being finished. In addition to working out of a temporary kitchen, he said the dining hall must coordinate some of its work around the construction schedule.
“It is our first year figuring things out in this site,” he said. “I think it will be a lot better next year.”
Morse student Elena Hoffnagle ’11 said she was not sure her college deserved such a low rating.
“I love the Morse dining hall,” she said. “The dining hall workers are great, and are very receptive to special requests.”
She did note, however, that the dining hall can often be crowded at dinner, and that food sometimes runs out since many students from coming from Payne Whitney Gymnasium or Swing Space eat in Morse.
Morse will share a newly renovated kitchen with Ezra Stiles College when Stiles opens next fall.