Asha Prihar

Responding to recent overcrowding in centrally located dining halls, the heads of Silliman and Grace Hopper colleges on Monday announced new restrictions on dinnertime dining hours for the rest of the academic year.

In an email to Silliman students, Head of College Laurie Santos explained that under the new policy the college dining hall will be open exclusively to Silliman students from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Each student in the college will be allowed to bring one out-of-college guest during those hours so that students can continue to schedule meetings. Shortly afterward, Hopper Head of College Julia Adams sent an email notifying her students that Hopper will implement the same policy.

“In the past few weeks, many of us have had a hard time finding seats in our dining hall,” Santos wrote in her email. “Given our location, our dining hall’s size, and Silliman’s overall awesomeness, our dining hall gets really busy. We need to curb the overall crowds so students here in Silliman can get a seat and enjoy a meal.”

The restrictions come in the wake of the recent closure of the Commons dining hall to accommodate the construction of the Schwarzman Center, which Yale hopes will become a new hub for student life.

With Monday’s announcements, Silliman and Hopper join a host of other colleges that place restrictions on transfers during dining hours. The Berkeley College dining hall is not open to transfers between 5 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. and the dining halls in Morse and Stiles colleges are open only to students from those colleges between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. All colleges are closed on Sunday nights to nonaffiliated students for Family Night, with the hope of fostering strong college communities.

Students interviewed by the News were divided on the merits of the new restrictions in Hopper and Silliman, which will take effect immediately. While some acknowledged the need for the policy to control dining traffic, others expressed frustration about the new restrictions.

Joe Peck ’21, who travels regularly from Benjamin Franklin College to the center of campus to share meals with friends on Old Campus, often frequents the Silliman dining hall for dinner. While he said he is frustrated that he will no longer be able to take advantage of Silliman’s “neutral territory,” he understands the desire to, in Santos’s words, “make the Silliman dining hall feel like Silliman’s again.” He said the Benjamin Franklin dining hall experiences similar problems during the lunch rush as students stream in from Science Hill.

“I’m disappointed because I like eating in Silliman because it’s central and I’m in Pauli Murray,” Kyung Mi Lee ’21 told the News after she was turned away from the Silliman dining hall on Monday night. “Silliman consistently has the best ice cream flavors and healthy food.”

Now that affiliated students will be able to invite only one guest to the dining hall, some anticipate difficulties scheduling club or group meetings. Anna Howard ’21 said that the 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. time window during which only Silliman students can access the dining hall is too long, adding that few students have dinner after 6:45 p.m. Additionally, Howard said, because many students have friends across colleges, they choose Silliman and Hopper for convenience.

Still, some Silliman students interviewed said they are excited to eat their meals in a calmer and more intimate environment. Claudia Torres ’19 said she and her friends value their dinners as time to catch up and talk about their days. Finding space to eat with a larger friend group is “such a hassle,” she said.

“I really like the new restrictions,” Torres added. “I think it’ll be good for reinforcing community.”

Both Santos and Adams acknowledged that the new policy may inconvenience some students and encouraged feedback and questions in their emails.

“Except for Family Nights, no college enjoys closing to transfers,” Adams said in her email. “We all want to be as welcoming as possible. But colleges’ options are narrowed when dinner hour crowding becomes so severe that students can’t find a seat.”

On weeknights, Morse and Stiles dining halls have extended hours from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., while all other campus dining halls operate from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Julianna Lai | julianna.lai@yale.edu