Yale Capital Campaign launch alters Commons service for three days
Preparations for the Oct. 2 launch event of the Yale Capital Campaign resulted in changes to lunch service in the newly-opened Commons dining hall.
Zoe Berg, Photo Editor
Students’ dining routines were disrupted this week after preparations for a Yale Capital Campaign launch event in the Schwarzman Center resulted in adjusted service to the Commons Dining Hall.
Commons is typically open for lunch between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and offers students the option to choose from four different stations. In a Sept. 28 email to the student body, Yale Hospitality announced that the dining room inside Commons would be closed between Wednesday, Sept. 29, and Friday, Oct. 1. Although the initial email did not give a reason for the service changes, a follow-up email explained that the closure was to “accommodate setup for the Yale Campaign launch,” which will be held on Oct. 2.
“As in the years prior to its renovation, Commons will remain a site for major university traditions throughout the year, such as the launch of the Yale Campaign taking place this Saturday,” Maurice Harris, the Schwarzman Center’s director of marketing and communications, wrote in an email to the News. “The temporary service changes are designed to accommodate the event setup while ensuring students have on-campus meal options during Commons’ standard service hours. Standard service returns to Commons on Monday, Oct. 4.”
The initial Yale Hospitality email explained that two of Commons’s food stations would be available for to-go service on Wednesday and Thursday, but that Commons would be closed for all of Friday. The email also said that the Davenport, Grace Hopper and Trumbull College dining halls would have their lunch periods extended to 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday to compensate for Commons’ closure.
But students said that this policy resulted in longer lunch lines in these colleges on the days that the Commons dining room was closed.
“We weren’t expecting this much spillover to the Hopper dining hall, but when we came into lunch we realized that the Commons closure would affect us a lot more than we previously thought,” said Tre Flagg ’24, a student in Grace Hopper who eats lunch there most days of the week.
Flagg said that in the Hopper dining hall, which usually has little to no wait time, the line to get lunch trailed out of the kitchen and towards the door of the dining hall on Thursday.
The Yale Capital Campaign, a University-wide fundraising event, is launched by each Yale president once during their tenure, and typically occurs every five to 10 years. University President Peter Salovey’s campaign is set to kick off on Oct. 2. The launch, which the University had previously announced would be held virtually, is set to feature a series of events that will be recorded from within the Schwarzman Center and broadcasted to the public online.
“Schwarzman Commons was selected as the site of the launch event more than a year ago, with the intention of holding an event that included a live broadcast with in-person and virtual attendees,” the Yale Campaign Events Team told the News in an email. “While guests are now attending virtually due to restrictions on large in-person gatherings, the stage set and content will continue as planned and be broadcast from Commons. Registered attendees will see the setting online during the live broadcast.”
Those who wish to attend the virtual campaign launch can register in advance online.
Although many of the students who typically frequent Commons took advantage of the expanded hours at the residential college dining halls, some still expressed their confusion about the reasons for the closure.
“It was unclear to me why they were closing Commons, which a lot of people have been using and is always very busy,” said Lukas Trelease ’25.
Trelease typically dines at Commons on Mondays and Wednesday afternoons, since his schedule prevents him from eating in residential college dining halls on these days.
Although he was able to pick lunch up from Commons to-go on Wednesday, Trelease said that it would have been “nicer, easier and more straightforward” to eat in the Commons dining hall.
“I understand it’s a common space and they plan to have other events in the future, but since Commons is open for only such a short period of time and is necessary for many, it might’ve been better if Yale held their private events at an hour more convenient to the students,” Trelease said.
Mirabel Nguyen ’24 also said that she usually goes to Commons once or twice a week and noted that she had planned to meet a friend there on Wednesday, but opted to reschedule after learning that they would not be able to dine in.
For Nguyen, this week’s to-go policy at Commons was an uncomfortable reminder of the grab-and-go meals provided by dining halls as a result of COVID-19 restrictions last year.
“Although I wasn’t severely affected by the closure of the dining area, the idea of taking to-go containers seemed reminiscent of the dining policies during COVID,” Nguyen wrote in an email to the News. “Therefore, I decided to eat at my residential college’s dining hall instead.”
The Commons dining hall will return to regular dining service on Monday, Oct. 4.