Morse and Stiles limit dinner transfers

Students await a brick-oven-baked pizza in the newly renovated Ezra Stiles dining hall. The access to this dining hall will now be limited.
Students await a brick-oven-baked pizza in the newly renovated Ezra Stiles dining hall. The access to this dining hall will now be limited. Photo by Stephanie Rivkin.

Extended hours and exotic offerings such as brick oven pizza from the freshly renovated kitchen shared by Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges have been popular with students this semester — but after weeks of overcrowding, access to the dining halls will now be limited.

Starting this Monday, Stiles and Morse dining halls are closed to students from other residential colleges from the start of dinner at 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. to ensure that residents of the colleges can dine close to home. Stiles Master Stephen Pitti and Morse Master Frank Keil notified all members of the colleges of the new policy, which restricts access much like the Sunday “family nights” that each residential college hosts, in an email Sunday.

“The dining hall has been operating way over capacity, and we’ve been very concerned about staff fatigue and their ability to meet the basic demand,” Pitti said. “We’ve also been concerned that students in Stiles and Morse haven’t been able to find seats during peak hours, and the overflow crowds are taking a toll on the common spaces.”

This year, Commons dining hall is no longer open for late evening dinner service and closes after lunch. Morse, Stiles and Calhoun dining halls are open until 8 p.m. on weeknights. According to Pitti and Keil’s email, the dining halls have been serving close to 1200 meals every night. The facilities are intended to serve between 800 and 900 people.

In the Stiles dining hall Monday night, master’s aids provided Stiles crest stickers to place on the student ID cards of Stilesians entering the dining hall. Staff swiping students’ cards asked for residential college affilations, and turned away those who were not residents of Stiles.

Chelsea Cole ’12, a Stiles master’s aid who was distributing stickers, said she was pleased with the new rule.

“Stiles in general hasn’t been able to eat in its own dining hall,” Cole said. “I think it’s important that students are able to eat in their own home.”

Morsel William Hall ’15 said the restriction “promotes a sense of family” in his college.

While other students now have fewer opportunities to dine there, Morsels and Stilesians said they were looking forward to better food selection as a result of the change.

Stilesian Carolyn Forrester ’15 said she noticed that hot food and ice cream disappeared quickly from her dining hall during dinner last week. She said she believes Stiles’s close proximity to Payne Whitney Gymnasium contributes to food shortages, adding that many hungry athletes come straight to the Morse and Stiles dining halls after practices.

Two such athletes, football player Cliff Foreman ’12 and Patrick Moran ’12, were turned away from Stiles dining hall Monday night.

“It’s been crowded,” Foreman said of his early semester dinners in Stiles. “But it hasn’t seemed so crowded that they’d need to do something ridiculous like this.”

Moran said that restricting dining hall access seems unfair given the amount of money students pay for meal plans. Both players agreed that the new rule won’t disrupt their schedule too much: Athletes’ meetings and training sessions frequently end later than 6:30 p.m. In accordance with the new rule, Foreman and Moran returned after 6:30 Monday night to eat in Stiles.

A female student who was turned away from meeting her friends in Stiles dining hall Monday night said the restriction should have been better publicized. The student asked to remain anonymous, since her intended dining companions were not Morse or Stiles students.

The rule was put into effect one day after it was announced, and many Morse and Stiles kitchen staff members interviewed said they were not aware of the new policy.

For his part, Pitti said that the rule is not set in stone and will be re-evaluated later on.

“We’re going to look at the policy and the effects of the change and make a judgment about whether we can relax the restriction at some point later,” he said.

Morse and Stiles were the last of Yale’s 12 residential colleges to undergo renovations. Morse renovations ended in fall 2010, while Stiles renovations ended in August.

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