“There are only two shifts here,” a cashier at Gourmet Heaven explained to me the other day, struggling to keep his eyes open as he rang up my wrap. “7 in the morning to 7 at night, and 7 at night to 7 in the morning.”
The fact that Gourmet Heaven engages in such practices is alarming because it seems inconceivable that this could happen in a place so close and familiar. Like the rest of the Broadway district, the area stretching from Mory’s to Cosi, “G-Heav” is practically part of Yale itself. And the YCC’s proposed Campus Cash program will bring it even closer, at least economically speaking, by allowing students to use their Yale ID cards to pay for items at Gourmet Heaven and other Broadway restaurants. It’s easy to forget that this district is “off campus” — a term that immediately labels it as part of another, less comprehensible world.
The concept of the “Yale bubble” draws a sharp theoretical line between on-campus and off-campus areas, separating the college from the city that surrounds it. “Yale” is a safe and nurturing environment, while “New Haven” is somewhere that shouldn’t be traveled through alone. Since off-campus areas are considered unsafe, it is important to understand where the lines should be drawn.
Sometimes, though, it is difficult to say definitively what is on-campus or off-campus at Yale. After all, Central Campus is crisscrossed by city streets. With restricted-access spaces limited to a few courtyards, and with many “off-campus” houses populated exclusively by Yale undergrads and even used by colleges as annex housing, students tend to evaluate whether an area is on-campus by counting how many people in the area are Yale-affiliated, and how safe those people feel.
The Broadway district receives high marks on both of these counts. Broadway may not be part of “campus” by a physical definition of the term, but it certainly is by an emotional one: Comfort is an important aspect of the campus atmosphere, and the corner of Elm and York is just as comfortable as Old Campus.
Some recent events, however, have exposed this widely held view of campus as somewhat naive. The New Haven Police Department has made Toad’s Place the focal point for its increased enforcement of Connecticut’s underage drinking laws in recent weeks. The law of the land in the Broadway district is not Yale policy but Connecticut state law, and students realize that they need to tailor their behavior accordingly.
The Campus Cash program is certainly not a reaction to this, but it could provide comfort of a different sort to students by taking away the practical difference between Gourmet Heaven and the Law School cafeteria: the use of cash as opposed to student IDs. Even the program’s name implies that participating businesses are, in effect, part of campus.
This increased ease and familiarity, however, can serve to mask important issues. Broadway’s businesses are independently operated and are not held to the University’s standards for labor and other practices. Gourmet Heaven’s 12-hour shifts are not illegal, but would never be required of Yale employees and would probably spark student protest if they were. In seeking partnerships with local businesses, the YCC and administration should remain cognizant of how these businesses’ practices differ from what they would expect of the University itself.
More importantly, the Campus Cash proposal and the Toad’s arrests make it clear that we, as students, need to re-examine our attitude toward the Broadway district. The NHPD’s actions have illuminated a reality that was always present, but until this month was easier to ignore: Broadway is not Yale’s playground, and students should be ready to adjust behavior to a set of standards appropriate for the broader community.
A community that extends beyond campus, however, makes the on-campus/off-campus dichotomy practically irrelevant, and provides a new realm of comfort for students. Once we begin to embrace the Broadway district as part of a community to which we, too, belong, our bonds to the neighborhood, to New Haven and to the outside world will inevitably become stronger.
Dara Lind is a sophomore in Berkeley College. This is her first regular column.