Yale Dining may extend dinner hours in the residential colleges past 7 p.m. next year in response to student demand.
After 77 percent of respondents to a Yale Daily News survey last month expressed support for later dinner hours, Yale Dining is now exploring ways to extend hours, said Yale Dining Executive Director Rafi Taherian. All other Ivy League schools have later dinner hours than Yale’s residential colleges, and Director of Residential Dining Regenia Phillips said that Yale’s dining schedule differs from many other colleges and universities. Taherian said he hopes that any new plan would be in place by the end of the year so students know what to expect of next year’s dining schedule.
“Most of the stakeholders are willing to work on this project and willing to get something done for next year,” Taherian said, adding that he has already begun discussions with residential college masters about the issue. “We are willing to work on this and come up with some options.”
Phillips said that students have voiced interest in later dining hours in the past, and said Yale Dining plans to include detailed questions about dining schedules in its upcoming spring survey. She and Taherian stressed that it will be important to gather detailed student input in the process, including more communication with the Yale College Council on the issue.
Changing the dining hours requires input from dining hall staff and their unions, Phillips said, as well as careful evaluation of how such a plan could impact the budget. She added that changing dining hours is especially difficult given the residential college system, since the same schedule must be used in all 12 college dining halls.
Even at other universities with residential colleges, later dining hours are the norm. Residential dining hours at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania extend until 8 p.m. Harvard, which has a separate dining hall for each house, offers dinner until 7:15 or 7:30 p.m. depending upon the house. At “brain breaks” later in the night, dining halls serve bagels, cereal, fruit and other snacks.
Phillips said Yale is unique in that its residential colleges house butteries. Yale Dining would not want to create late-night snack options in the dining halls or make other changes which would interfere with the butteries’ service, she said.
Sam Dorward ’13 said he finds students’ reliance upon unhealthy snacks such as buttery food troubling. He said he would welcome later dinner hours because they would cut down on late-night hunger.
“Every other school I’ve been to has later hours than us,” he said. “It seems reasonable that Yale should keep up with its peers.”
Kieran Dahl ’14 said he found it difficult to adjust to Yale’s early dinner hours this year since he was accustomed to eating dinner at around 8 p.m. at home. He said he would support later dinners, which he said might also “spread out when students eat” and lead to less crowding in the dining halls.
Even Austin Jung ’14, who said he does not care whether dinner hours are extended because he prefers to eat dinner early, added he would consider a later dinner if the option were available.
Commons currently serves hot dinner until 8 p.m., and offers limited late dinner until closing at 9 p.m.