Students have swarmed the new ramen bar and pizza oven at the renovated Berkeley College dining hall since classes resumed this fall. But now only students affiliated with the college and their guests will have access to the new amenities during peak dinner hours.
Although Berkeley’s central location on campus has long established it as hub of student activity, the dining hall’s renovations this summer have attracted more students than ever before. And on Monday, Berkeley became the third residential college to limit entry during the week’s peak hours and the first since the opening of the two new colleges on Prospect Street. Under the new policy, only Berkeley students and their guests will be permitted to eat in the dining hall between 5:00 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
“The problem has been that, due to heavy usage, our students have been unable to find available seats in the dining hall on a regular basis,” Berkeley Head of College David Evans said. “Our dining staff have very admirably been able to keep up with the heavy demand, but there simply hasn’t been enough chair and table space in the hall to accommodate everyone.”
The policy — which was made in consultation with Berkeley students, other heads of college and Yale Dining administrators — will provide Berkeley students with a “relatively serene environment” for dinner.
Even some of Berkeley’s own students, such as Brian Reyes ’21, have started eating at other dining halls after scrambling to find seats with friends. But on his first day eating on his home turf under the new policy, Reyes said he noticed lighter traffic and a calmer energy.
Danielle Harris ’21, another Berkeley student, said the overcrowding prevents a sense of togetherness and added that she often struggles to find a table to share with friends.
The long lines are the result not just of overcrowding, said Berkeley-affiliated graduate student fellow Jørn Emborg GRD ’18, but also small details of the new setup, such as the location of trash cans. Oftentimes, Emborg said, students wait in the wrong lines for stations, which creates confusion as diners navigate the kitchen area.
Evans said that he began considering restrictions on entry as early as the first day of classes, when the new dining options drew hoards of students. As crowds grew this past month, the Berkeley dining hall staff began asking students to wait in line before entering.
The dining halls in Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges instituted a similar policy that restricted unaffiliated students from dining from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. after Yale’s first brick pizza oven opened there in 2011.
For students in Morse and Stiles, the restrictions offer exclusive access to some of the most coveted food options on campus. Bessie Bauman ’21, a student in Stiles, said the time restriction also strengthens the sense of college community by creating a unique space for Stiles students.
But unlike the restrictions at Morse and Stiles, Berkeley’s policy allows students unaffiliated with the college to frequent the dining hall for most of dinner. The hours were deliberately chosen so that Berkeley would remain a place for students to dine at a central location on campus, Evans said.
This year, just as the undergraduate population increased for the first time in decades, renovations in Silliman College increased the dining hall’s capacity by 50 seats while the opening of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges added 600 seats to the residential dining system, helping make up for the closure of Commons.
Yale Dining serves more than 3 million meals each year.
Hailey Fuchs | firstname.lastname@example.org
Chloe Glass | email@example.com