Benjamin Franklin Head of College Charles Bailyn announced early last week two new dining initiatives intended to strengthen Franklin’s sense of community.
In response to crowding during weekday lunches and a lack of seating, dining hall staff designated a Franklin-only table — the long table closest to the serving area — to ensure Franklin students could regularly find a place to eat in their home college. Additionally, Franklin will develop special menus for “family night” dinner on Sundays following the success of the Super Bowl dinner in early February. These menus will include appetizers and various types of comfort food, which Bailyn describes as “study break food.” Bailyn explained the upcoming changes in an email sent to Franklinites on Feb. 11.
“Both [initiatives] have bubbled up from student suggestions, and I think both will enhance our community,” Bailyn wrote in the email. “Thanks for the ideas — keep ’em coming — and a big thanks to Dining Hall management and staff for their efforts in implementation.”
In his email, Bailyn noted the inevitable difficulty in maintaining a Franklin-only table, as there is no mechanism for dining hall staff to directly enforce the change. Bailyn recommends that Franklin students “Franklinize the space” before the lunch crowd arrives and “gently discourage” non-Franklin students from sitting at the designated table. Bailyn also encouraged Franklin students to fill all the seats at the table and “sit next to someone new.”
Many other heads of college designate reserved tables in their dining halls, such as the “senior-only” table in Berkeley College, according to Senior Director of Residential Dining Adam Millman.
According to Franklinite Jonah Chang ’23, weekday crowding at lunch often makes it difficult to find seats for groups larger than two people, especially between noon and 1 p.m. Chang believes that many students eat in Franklin out of convenience after finishing a class on Science Hill or Hillhouse Avenue.
For the college’s upcoming special Sunday menus, Franklin chefs plan to rotate through a variety of themes, including Asian, Mexican and “tailgate food.”
“In the case heads of college wish to offer [their] college community a ‘themed’ special menu at any time through the year, [Yale Hospitality] will work directly with them to develop [them],” wrote Millman in an email to the News.
In addition to the special menus, Franklin will adopt “family night” dinners restricted to Franklinites and their friends in other colleges. Many other residential colleges also hold restricted “family night” dinners to strengthen each college’s social environment.
Chang said that he is hoping the food will be “better than normal” and that a lot of his friends in Franklin “are excited for the changes.”
“They haven’t really given us a whole lot of information on what exactly they’ll be serving,” Chang said. “It’s nice that we’re allowed to bring friends from other colleges in because it helps limit the crowding while making sure that if you want to eat with non-Franklin people, you still can.”
Chang said Franklin’s community is already strong due to its relatively isolated location on campus, but he hopes Franklinites will eat in Franklin more frequently because of the changes.
Benjamin Franklin College is located at 90 Prospect St.
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