The Silliman dining hall will reopen its doors to all Yale students for dinner starting this week.
In an Oct. 1 email to all Silliman students, Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis announced that students from all residential colleges would once again be allowed to eat in the dining hall during all dinner hours, reversing a year-old decision from former Silliman Master Judith Krauss. Krauss had decided to bar non-Silliman students from eating in the dining hall between 5:45 p.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, due to overcrowding. Christakis said he kept the policy for a month at the start of this school year — although he did shorten the ban by 15 minutes — in order to foster a sense of community within the college. But he added that he had always planned to reopen it to the rest of Yale College.
“[We restricted] dining … to Silliman students — plus one friend — for the first month of the year, so that new Silliman students might get a chance to know one another,” he said. “As planned, we have now lifted that restriction in a way that reflects our welcoming philosophy at Silliman.”
Also starting this week, the dining hall will be open 24 hours a day, excluding weekends, for students to use as a study space.
Silliman chef Stu Comen said while the change in policy will increase traffic in the college during dinner time by about 100 students, the new number — about 450 —will still be significantly lower than the number that Silliman is capable of serving. When Commons first closed for dinner in 2011, Silliman remained open until 8 p.m. and served about 550 to 600 students each night, he said. Even now, if Commons closes for lunch for a special event, 600 to 700 students swipe in to Silliman to eat, he added.
“[The reopening] will cause a bit more of a line, but we’ve almost always had a line at Silliman, simply because we’re linear: there’s one way to come in and out,” Comen said. “But no one has to wait a really long time. And it’s part of the social atmosphere.”
Comen said restrictions on non-Silliman students also added an unfair burden to other residential colleges’ dining halls. He worried that keeping such a rule in Silliman could lead other dining halls to start limiting transfers as well, he said.
According to Comen, restrictions were initially put in place in response to Silliman students’ complaints about overcrowding, but all seven Silliman students interviewed said they supported lifting restrictions on transfer students.
Although Lisa Scott ’16 acknowledged that she had enjoyed eating in a less congested dining hall, she said Silliman should be open to all students at all times in the spirit of fairness.
“We all pay tuition to eat in the dining hall,” she said. “I’m frustrated when I can’t eat in Stiles, and I’m sure students were frustrated about not being able to eat in Silliman.”
Michelle Yancich ’17 said she found the restrictions to be onerous, as they prevented her from eating with friends of hers who were not in Silliman.
While the change will inevitably make the dining hall more crowded, the benefit of interacting with students not in Silliman is well worth the longer lines, Anya Markowitz ’17 said.
All non-Silliman students also expressed support for the change. Timothy Dwight student Malina Simard-Halm ’18 said Silliman should be open to all students during dinner hours because it is one of the largest and most popular dining halls on campus. Science-focused students especially rely on the dining hall, she added, as it is near the classrooms and lab buildings on Science Hill.
Commons stopped serving breakfast in 2014.