It took less than a week for Commons Dining Hall to dump its experiment with trayless dining.
The controversial initiative in the University’s largest dining facility was scrapped Thursday evening after Yale Dining officials received overwhelmingly negative feedback from students. Executive Director of Dining Rafi Taherian said Thursday it did not make sense to continue an initiative that seemed contrary to the wishes of the Yale community.
“Yale Dining listens,” Teherian said. “We don’t have ego. We’re responsive.”
Yale Dining removed trays from their traditional locations in Commons beginning with a pre-term dinner for freshmen Sunday night, although dining hall staff continued to provide trays upon request.
Commons received about 200 comments asking for a reversion to dining with trays this week and only six comments in support of the change.
Yale Dining administrators said many of the comments appear to have been submitted by a handful of students. Many comments shared with the News complain of the difficulty of carrying multiple plates and glasses without a tray; many of these same comments reference the needs of athletes. Pete Balsam ’11, a member of the varsity football team, said his team sometimes spent meals filling out comment cards together.
The football team has been particularly vocal about the need for trays, Commons General Manager Thomas Peterlik said. Some members of the team did not clear their plates after one meal this week, Peterlik said, instead leaving them in a towering stack at the end of a table in protest. Two members of the team denied knowledge of the incident.
Peterlik said trayless dining also generated longer and slower lines for food and dish deposit. Spillage increased because foods and beverages slipped directly onto counters and floors, Peterlik said, where in the past they would have fallen onto trays.
Director of Residential Dining Regenia Phillips said she believes Yale could still go trayless, but said she believes the culture among students has to change first.
“It won’t work until it’s cool not to use a tray,” she said.
Marcus Strong ’11, who serves as project head for the Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership, said he and other STEP coordinators are committed to changing mind-sets on environmental issues, and plan to encourage trayless dining in the residential colleges this year.