Dora Guo

It’s been a few weeks since the class of 2027 got the email assigning them to their residential colleges. 

For the first years, now begins a wonderful four-year journey with the classic icebreaker along for the ride: “Let’s start going around the circle with everyone’s residential college, intended major, hometown and one fun fact about themselves!” 

If the person initiating said icebreaker is adventurous enough, you might even partake in the infamous “rose, bud, thorn,” or “everyone share your favorite Yale Dining dessert.”

So as the class of ‘27 starts exploring their colleges, I offer you a completely objective and scientific list of residential colleges ranked in several categories. Upperclassmen, please just entertain yourselves and let me know if you have input. 


Category 1: Butteries

I have two criteria for butteries: first, how often they run out of things/have extra menu items and, second, the comfiness of their chairs! The joy of Yale is that the sadness of the Berkeley buttery running out of cheese can readily be offset by Davenport suddenly having key lime yogurt to make up for it. You have to be willing to go from buttery to buttery, munching on nummy snacks to truly discover the wonders available to a hungry college student around midnight. Anyways, here is a quick rundown:

14- Saybrook: I’ve never been there or heard anyone talk about it. Should I doubt its existence?

13- TD: If they’re holding you there without your will, send me a sign and I’ll rescue you. I don’t see any other reason as to why you’d be in TD that late into the night.

12- Stiles: The colorful sofas have proven themselves to be terrifically comfortable. However, I have never eaten in the Stiles buttery. My friends’ food all looked very appetizing but myself scanning pages at 11:50pm for a pset due at 11:59 is not very reliable critic, so I encourage you to  give it a try for yourselves. 

11- Trumbull: THE place to go for a milkshake! No further commentary required. 

10- Pierson: I honestly don’t see how it is different from the Davenport buttery, but it’s usually harder to find someone to open the door for you so I’ve always gotten my late night snacks from Davenport., Sorry, Pierson! 

9- Davenport: The challenge in accessing this buttery does not end with finding people who can swipe you into the college. You also have to find someone to let you inside the Dive! Practice your loud knocking skills and most adorable smile as you point toward the door frantically. The antics are worth it; the quesadillas are delicious.  

8- Benjamin Franklin: The must-go location for both great cheese fries and a view of the pool tables where I will inevitably lose every game I play. They do occasionally run out of certain flavors of Snapple, but who needs Snapple when you haven’t started your essay?

  1. JE: Small, cozy, and always has fries! What else would someone want from a buttery?

6- Branford: Small but mighty – if you can find it (though the way there is also very aesthetic and enjoyable). One of the best places to munch on snacks comfortably.

5- Morse: The Morsel! This college loves neon signs,  especially if there is food involved.. For those who can’t get enough of the neon ax in the dining hall during the day you can check out the neon Morsel sign at night while munching on your fries or nuggets… or both. 

4- Pauli Murray: A wide range of food options, a comfy sitting area and an all-around great stop after Hillhouse office hours, Murray is a buttery for the STEM kids who seek comfort in greasy food after late-night office hours near Prospect or those seeking a little treat on the way back from dropping of p-sets in SPL. I used to be somewhat biased as a Franklinite, but can’t find anything objective to complain about. I surrender.

3- Silliman: I love cheese (maybe cheese quality and availability should have been a metric) and Silliman has the best mozzarella sticks! So far, they’ve never run out. I haven’t tried anything else there, so I’m working on very limited data, but Silliman is a 10/10 if you love mozzarella sticks.

2- Berkeley: A quick stop on the way home from Sterling (or Bass, depending on how terribly your night is going). You can also work in the common room upstairs, which is cozy with pretty carpets and a study spot you should definitely keep in mind. I have experienced a few cheese shortages, but Berkeley is almost always a wonderful spot for a study break. 

1- Hopper: You can watch people play pool as you wait in line. The food is great – always. There’s good music, comfy, nap-worthy chairs and I’ve never seen them run out of any item. With high reliability and stellar atmosphere, Hopper is a clear winner!


Category 2: Gyms

I tend to go to the gym only if I can’t resist the peer pressure and have been known to run away from workout sessions when my friends aren’t looking. (Don’t take me as an example, work out regularly, it’s healthy, it’s good for you…apparently…)

As such, my key criteria for  the gyms is the ease of running away from your friends when you don’t want to lift your legs for the 20th time as a huge metal cylinder tries to annihilate your quadriceps.

11- TD: I’ve never been but rumors say it is pretty hard to leave without your friend seeing you.

10- Morse/Stiles: You just need to make sure your friends are working out facing the wall as you run away. If they’re facing the huge glass windows then I’m afraid you’ll have to do the rest of the workout.

9- JE: Not very hard to get out of yet still requires a bit of skill– the mirrors aren’t doing you any favors.

8- Trumbull: Trumbull is on the smaller side of the gyms so you might want to wait until your friend leaves for a water/bathroom break. Otherwise, count on waking up sore.

7- Hopper: It’s a maze. Only try to ditch if you know your way around underground.

6- Davenport/ Pierson:  Easier if you know where you’re going, but you’ll have to be quick. There are two floors you can certainly make use of. 

5- Franklin/Murray: It’s pretty open, but if your friends are in one corner and you just happen to leave your water bottle on the Murray side, you can weasel your way out through the tunnels (I love navigating the Murray tunnels but have heard many do not, so try at your own risk).

4- Silliman: It’s huge! You can hide behind people and move one step at a time towards the exit. Some risky sneaky moves might be required, but trust that once you get to the stairs you’re essentially free. 

3- Berkeley: Unless you are tempted by the buttery, you can speed-climb your way up the stairs (if you still have the leg strength) et voila! You’re free!

2- Branford: It’s a fun gym. As such, you can use the punching bag to distract your friends as you make good use of Branford’s underground tunnels.

1- Saybrook: It is small, it is dark, it is empty. What else can you ask for? Turn around and run on the count of three (and not on the treadmill)!


Category 3: Dining halls

Introducing the bitter truth of dating in college: you will run into your ex at every random point on campus! Unless, of course, you find the love of your life during your first week and proceed to date them for your entire time at Yale and live happily ever after. Yeah… I thought so…

So, here are dining halls ranked according to the probability of running into your ex (from low to high):

14- TD: I have been twice and only saw TD friends on both occasions.It is a very safe place to eat without running into your ex (unless you are in TD). If this is the case and your ex is in TD, you might want to cross the street to Silliman to experience the wonderful (and occasionally annoying depending on how short you are for time but mostly wonderful) crowd and wait in a very long line to get the same picante chicken you would’ve gotten in TD).

13- Branford: You can’t possibly swipe into the entryway unless you’re in Branford, so no risk unless your ex is in Branford. It’s a dining hall that’s easily avoidable andalso saves you a flight of stairs.

12- Saybrook: Say who? Now that Saybrook doesn’t have hot breakfast, I don’t see why you would run into your ex here. With this said, it still doesn’t hurt to be careful in case they are a fan of the exhilarating experience of procuring their meals next to complete strangers, like that one girl they were in a seminar with but never interacted on a personal level and now have to smile politely and awkwardly at for the entirety of their meal whilst subtly glancing at their phone (because Instagram, as always, is deeply pressing). 

11- Morse: Can you even see your ex through the glare of the giant fluorescent ax? I don’t think so. Keep staring at said ax and you’re safe.

10- Trumbull: It can get dark in there, so if you’re sneaky you can go unnoticed at the small booths to the left of the dining hall. Every time I eat in Trumbull I see the same people, so unless you have dated one of these devotees you’re good.

9- Pierson: Very bright (particularly relative to Trumbull). As soon as you walk through the door you are instantly recognizable. You have the spotlight, main character energy, whatever you want to call it. But Pierson is also at the farthest corner of campus, so I’m not entirely sure who goes there for food. You should be on the safer side. 

8- JE: I don’t know many people who go to JE to get meals. However, they do have great formals and other food-including events, so if you’re going for those there is a relatively high possibility of running into not only your ex but also the guy you accidentally ghosted about a P-set weeks ago from your Econ class and a few of those orientation friends you haven’t talked to since the first day of classes. Main idea: JE events are great places for awkward encounters and good food.

7- Hopper: If you get breakfast on weekends and if your ex gets breakfast on weekends you’ll definitely run into each other (what are the chances, right? If you were that compatible, you might want to consider getting back together, but of course, that’s none of my business). Otherwise, pretty safe. 

6- Stiles: If your ex is an athlete you will see them here and will want to avoid Stiles at all costs. If not, there is no way you’ll run into each other thanks to the entire football team will inevitably form a wall of large humans between you two. Thanks guys!

5- Murray: For some reason Franklin is always more crowded during lunch but you’re bound to see almost half of the STEM majors there for lunch. Oh, and the entire crew of Dynamic Earth on their semesterly visit.

4- Davenport: There are always a lot of people in Davenport and every time I go there I run into the most unexpected acquaintance. If you get one of the window tables you might have enough time to hide under said table as you see them enter the courtyard.

3- Franklin: You’ll most definitely see them at lunch if you’re a STEM major or taking your distributional requirement science course up on Science hill. Safer for dinner.

2- Berkeley: Risky dining hall for dinner, mostly because it’s great for a Sterling study break and has the lovely upstairs balcony for people-watching but also has a very long 6pm line where you’ll be exposed to many individuals. Is it worth it? Maybe. 

1- Silliman: “6 pm, Silliman?” might be one of the texts you’ll see most often as you make plans for dinner. There is a great chance that your ex got the same text at the same time as you along with a hundred other Yalies.Very, very, very high possibility of undesirable ex encounters.

Also, as a disclaimer, the author of this piece does not endorse awkward interactions between exes. Please know how to say hello and keep walking. No need to hide under tables or anything of the sort.


Sources of joy!

Yale is full of joy, but Yale is also full of stress. When you find yourself in need of the former, here are my recommendations for each college: 

Berkeley: Massage chairs in the South courtyard.

Branford: The little study space as you enter the dining hall from the common room – a great  secluded corner to write.

Davenport: The library and its window seats where you can look outside as you work.

Franklin: The courtyard near Canal Street with the hammocks.

Hopper: The tables in front of entryways J and I.

JE: The beautiful old table in the common room.

Morse: The underground tunnels.

Murray: The elevated courtyard.

Pierson: The walkway between the York Street gate and main courtyard.

Saybrook: The round tables in the smaller courtyard, especially in spring as flowers bloom around them.

Silliman: The common room and its mahogany walls.  The aesthetic is calming.

Stiles: The common room, with its great acoustics and occasional piano players.

Trumbull: That one specific vantage point in the courtyard where you can see the turret of Sterling Memorial Library

TD: Under the big gingko tree in the courtyard, after sunset but before it gets too dark. It’s the perfect place to read and scribble thoughts.

Class of 2027, Yale is yours. I hope you enjoy all of the beauty of Yale and find your own sources of joy, wherever they may find you.