Feeding the Masses

October 15, 2007

J.L., 1L

I came to YLS expecting the school to provide all the intellectual challenges and opportunities I could ever want. I was definitely not disappointed in the least, but surprised when I found out that I would be getting more than just food for thought. Beginning with the first day of Orientation, the 1Ls have been inundated with food. For someone who eats on a constant basis, it's been pretty amazing to have so many opportunities to get to learn something about my peers and professors over nothing short of a free lunch (or dinner, or breakfast, or everything in between). From grab bags at the YLS cafeteria for lunch to "Carnival Day" where Dean Koh drew out names for free Yale merchandise, the school has made sure that no 1L shall ever go hungry.

On a regular basis, we do pretty well with the law school cafeteria, which is great for both lunch and a quick snack during class breaks. Just to bring everyone closer together, YLS hosts a weekly happy hour where the Dean and faculty members mingle with all of the law students over a constantly changing selection of finger foods and beverages. It seems that every other day there's a distinguished speaker coming or a discussion panel, while the many student organizations also make sure that we almost always get a meal with the show. Our free cuisine is often pizza (keep in mind that we're in New Haven and everyone swears by the pizza) but many events will advertise a "non-pizza" dinner, which intrigued me. I learned quickly that "non-pizza food" often means Thai or Indian (two staples of the New Haven food scene), but the sheer number of free meals ensured that I was able to sample something from just about every corner of New Haven.

I've been pretty impressed by how YLS makes every effort to make sure we get to know each other outside the law school as well. Two of our Dean's Advisors banded together to give us our first taste of Indian food in New Haven, and my corner of the table had enough left over to avoid cooking for the rest of the week. Journal meetings are almost always accompanied by snacks (from carrots and chips to salad and pizza) and are often followed by social hours at students' apartments or at local restaurants. True to form, our professors have also been a constant and never-ending source of dinners, barbecues, and light snacks. We've had small group barbecues at their homes, gone on picnics at their farms, and stolen the odd Snickers from their candy jars. Our Constitutional Law professor passed a couple pies around class one day. Another invited all the members of the Pacific Islander, Asian, and Native American Law Students Association (one of several cultural groups on campus) to her home for dinner. After an hour of getting to know each other over noodles and beef, we gathered in her living room for a Q&A session where she answered questions ranging from which classes to take to where the best tennis courts are. She didn't run out of steam, stopping only to crack a joke or make sure her dog wasn't sneaking into the food. It was just like going to dinner at a friend's house–until we remembered that this was a world-famous, best-selling author giving her evening (and home) to us. The best part? Nights like this aren't anything out of the ordinary for students at a school that's always feeding us, both literally and figuratively.