Dining considers table-tent ban

Yale Dining is considering banning groups from advertising through the use of table-tent fliers on dining hall tables.
Yale Dining is considering banning groups from advertising through the use of table-tent fliers on dining hall tables. Photo by Blair Seideman.

Student organizations may soon be prohibited from publicizing their groups through flyers in dining halls.

Yale Dining is considering implementing the policy because of clutter on tables, sustainability efforts and the administrative hassle of approving advertisements, said Cathy Van Dyke, director of residential dining. The majority of students interviewed said the table tent flyers currently do not bother them, but that they do not feel strongly about whether they should be removed. Should Yale Dining ban table tents, Van Dyke said, students organizations could instead post advertisements on the Yale Station website, which she said is currently “underutilized.”

“We’re putting feelers out,” she said. “I’d rather [Yale Dining] focus on things that would be beneficial for which there isn’t an alternative.”

Van Dyke called the process of evaluating and approving student advertisements “cumbersome and time-consuming.” Most requests are approved, leading to clutter at the dining hall tables, she said, adding that residential college masters have been voicing complaints about the table clutter. Nine student organizations currently have approved table tents.

In addition, groups create the table tents with paper, which does not align with Yale Dining’s “push towards sustainability.”

Jamey Silveira ’13, a member of the Yale-China Association, said his group has been authorized to use table tents this year to advertise its Yale University-New Asia College Exchange program. He said he does not think his group would suffer much from a ban on table tents because most applicants to the program find out about it through “word of mouth” or mass emails.

He said he would understand if table tents were banned because he thinks they do crowd dining hall tables.

“I do feel like there were times when you could barely fit your tray onto one of the four person tables because they were so crowded,” he said.

Silveira added that he first became aware of the Yale-China Association from reading a table tent, though “it was one out of thousands of table tents that I’ve seen that actually got me to do something.”

Still, several students interviewed said a table tent had never prompted them to join an organization or attend an event. Theresa Oei ’15 said she understands how table tents would be an effective advertising strategy because “everyone eats,” but none have made her join a club.

Justin Moore ’15 said he rarely pays attention the table tents because he typically focuses on conversation with friends instead of reading the table tents. He added that because he encounters a large amount of club advertisement on campus, he does not notice most of it.

“There is so much advertising going on with bulletin boards [that] you filter it out as background noise,” he said.

Though Molly Gibson ’14 said that a table tent has never prompted her to attend anything, she said she enjoys reading them to see the variety of activities offered on campus.

“I do like them to see the spectrum of what goes on at school just by reading them on your dining hall table,” she said.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    “but that they do not feel strongly about whether they should be removed”

    Please alert Yale Law School and especially its alienated alum, Mr. Justice Thomas: The FIRST AMENDMENT applies EVERYWHERE in America EXCEPT THE TABLES AT YALE DINING HALLS.

    Rubbish !
    (pun intended)

    Paul D. Keane

    Founder,
    Kent State FACT
    (First Amendment Conservation Task-force)
    Documents available in my files at Sterling’s Manuscripts and Archives “Kent State Collection”

  • hieronymous85

    Um, pretty sure that First Amendment thing applies only to the government. And even if Yale were the government, this would seem to be a fairly clear-cut content-neutral regulation. Sustainability efforts, reducing clutter, and avoiding administrative hassle are good enough reasons to get rid of those pesky table tents.

  • River_Tam

    > Should Yale Dining ban table tents, Van Dyke said, students organizations could instead post advertisements on the Yale Station website, which she said is currently “underutilized.”

    “Only put advertisements in places where no one will ever look, please.”

  • yalengineer

    Table tents are extremely effective. There are all sort of subtle things psychologically going on when your sitting there, eating, doing nothing but minding yourself, table tent in the corner of your eye, tempting you.

    Maybe we should use ipads for everything. Or the Galaxy since apparently they are one and the same.

  • joematcha

    Wait, why is there someone approving table tents? Is there a practical benefit to this (especially if, as noted, the majority of them get approved)?

  • basho

    Let’s get to work on making the food not suck – we can talk about the ads once we make some headway on that