Residential college dining halls are often places for mealtime conversation and argument, but for residents of Timothy Dwight College, the policies of the dining hall itself have become a cause for dinner-hour debate.
A student-organized petition asking for the return of glassware and grilled chicken to the TD dining hall will be submitted to Yale University Dining Services Friday morning. Nearly 250 TD residents, including Master Robert Thompson and Dean John Loge, have signed the petition, Jeohn Favors ’05, the petition’s author, said.
The dining hall had offered grilled chicken on a daily basis until the end of the 2003-2004 academic year, and glasses were replaced last Thursday with the plastic cups found in other dining halls. Favors, Alistair Anagnostou ’05, Sadiq Abdulla ’05 and Samar Abbas ’06 co-signed the petition last Thursday, and in an e-mail sent it to the TD community on Monday afternoon, Favors encouraged other residents to sign the petition during dinner hours.
Though some of the issues discussed in the letter have already been resolved, representatives of both sides said they hope for an amicable resolution of the controversy.
“The removal of glassware from the dining hall uncovered galvanized TD residents,” Abdulla said.
“Grilled chicken was taken off the dining menu last year, and a lot of people were angry about that,” he said. “Then the glass to plastic thing was a catalyst that got us all to spring into action.”
But Dining Services administrators saw the changes as both cost-effective and, in the case glass-to-plastic shift, the solution to a safety concern, said Don McQuarrie, the executive director of Yale Dining Services.
“There’s a lower level in TD where the floor wares are moved for cleaning, and while things are being moved, glass becomes an issue,” McQuarrie said. “We tried to look for some areas where there were opportunities for us to simplify. This was also seen as a potential savings that wouldn’t necessarily impact service to a considerable degree.”
Although chicken and glassware may seem like minor complaints, they are symptomatic of a larger problem, Favors said.
“It’s really about the way the dining services went about removing them,” he said. “Especially with the glass, which was there at lunch and then gone at dinner without a word to the students. It was just underhanded, and I think that’s what’s a bit more disturbing than the actual changes.”
The Master’s Office released a statement via e-mail on Monday detailing a new dining hall policy that will provide a greater variety of chicken dishes, including chicken teriyaki and Jamaican jerk chicken, over the course of the week.
The new menu, while not the petitioners’ ultimate goal, is a step in the right direction, Favors said.
“We haven’t gotten chicken back on the grill as a daily offering, which is really what we want to do,” he said. “We’re looking to return things to the way they were last year. But at least they’re listening to us.”
McQuarrie said he would be glad to meet with TD representatives in the interests of compromise.
“We’re always willing to talk about things with the specific dining halls,” he said. “The Dining Service Advisory Committee hasn’t met this year, but we will meet to discuss these concerns, and if glass is a bone of contention, we’re happy to sit down with the folks at TD and see what our options are.”
Dining Services Residential Operations Director Bruce Calvert declined to comment, but said that as the executive director, McQuarrie spoke for Dining Services as a whole.
Favors said he considered McQuarrie’s willingness to compromise encouraging.
“I hope that everyone ends up happy and that we can recover our title as the undisputed best dining hall on campus,” Favors said.
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