Dear Rebecca,

How do you optimize your Durfee’s swipe?


A Freshman Who Just Discovered Durfee’s


Dear Freshman,

Oh, to go back to the days of freshman year when I cared as much as I still should about getting every dollar I could out of Yale Dining.

It is important to consider that there are two different types of meal swipes. We’ll call the first kind “Help I am Starving.” This usually occurs when you actually have to skip lunch for a class, meeting or paper, and you need to fill up on food. In this case, figure out what you are craving. Get that. And then a drink, if you can.

Alternatively, if you’re trying to use your meal swipe because you went out for lunch and aren’t actually hungry, then you’re “Stocking Up.” If this is the case, there’s no sense of urgency, so it’s pretty easy to spend your meal swipe. Get whatever food you like to have in your room.

In both cases, once you make your initial selection, you’re faced with a challenge. You might even have to do some math (trust me, I know it can be hard.) Figure out how much you have left. If you’re not sure what something costs, ask someone at the register, or the other people around you in line — someone has to know how much string cheese costs (anyone?).

To optimize your swipe, you’ll have to buy a lot of random stuff at the end. Buy a Chap Stick, some honey or gum. Here’s a pro tip: Pocket-sized Kleenex packages cost $1 and will help you make friends in both seminar and the library (but beware: Durfee’s charges tax on non-food items).

Also, it is always better to go a bit over than under. Don’t let Yale Dining keep that 75 cents. Toss in an extra pack of gum and make up the difference with that quarter you forgot you had in your pocket.

Oh, and one final piece of wisdom: You can also use your Durfee’s swipe to give to those who have less than you do. For an entire semester last year, I used my spare lunch swipes to buy garlic hummus cups which I gave to the boys in my life who seemed hungry (my boyfriend, the YDN managing editors). Sidenote: Make sure to buy food people like. Turns out, not everybody enjoys garlic hummus. Sorry, Mason and Gavan.

So go ahead and swipe happily, young freshman. Just don’t forget to avoid Durfee’s during rush hour. You might be hungry, but you don’t have time for that.

Yours in dollars and sense,



* * *

Dear Rebecca,

It’s housing draw season, and even though I’m a junior, I still haven’t figured out my way around it. Last year I was abandoned by my best friends and suitemates and ultimately annexed to the boiler room of Swing Space where I lived with the rats. How can I navigate this hellish process without turning all of my friends into enemies?


I’d Rather Live in Bass


Dear I’d Rather,

It is easier to tell you what not to do. Don’t lie. Don’t invent suitemates. Don’t try to force your way into a suite that has been living together for years. Don’t be a martyr, and don’t make decisions to be polite. You shouldn’t have to compromise in the fight for good housing.

There isn’t a foolproof way through housing, but here are a few possible strategies:

One method is to latch yourself on to one friend. Make the commitment to each other that you will stick together, no matter what. This seems like it would be a good plan. In fact, it was my plan A last year, and it failed. I cried a lot, and she got to live with six of our suitemates from the year before.

Another approach is to decide that all you want is a single. That it doesn’t matter where or in what suite that single is. This was my plan B last year, and it actually worked. My room has an amazing view, and a built-in wall desk. But unless you’re an upperclassmen in Morse, I doubt it could work for you. (Do any other colleges even have built-in desks?)

Despite having to resort to plans B or C every year, I’ve still managed to live in beautiful rooms and have great suitemates. But at housing draw, I am always a wreck. Even when I try to be honest, I end up in tears. I think the key to mastering the housing draw is being able to survive the weeks of scheming and gossip with as much aplomb as Blair Waldorf handled her reign at Constance. I personally could never do it, so I’m moving off campus.

But hey, good luck with your housing draw! I hope you get the best number.

Yours from Park Street,



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